The only creme brulee recipe you'll ever need
Creme brulee is essentially melted vanilla ice cream, a basic custard – egg yolks, sugar and cream. While the name is heavily accented in some contexts – crème brûlée – that makes it sound oh, so fancy, you're just eating vanilla ice cream with caramelized sugar on top. Most recipes call for baking in a hot-water bath in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, an inconvenient method when it's easier to cook it on the stove in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Total Time: About 2 hours | Prep Time: 20 minutes | Serves: 4 to 6
- 6 egg yolks
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup plus 8 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Beat the egg yolks, using a mixer on high, until they're pale yellow and frothy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running, gradually sprinkle in 1/3 cup of sugar.
- Heat the cream and vanilla bean in a saucepan over medium heat until hot (about 120 F) and set the heat to low. Remove the vanilla bean, and whisk half the cream into the egg yolks, 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time.
- Whisk the egg yolk-cream mixture (custard) into the saucepan. Cook the custard over low heat until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Pour the custard into four 1-cup ramekins or a 9-inch pie dish. Chill the custard until cold, 1 to 2 hours. Before serving, heat the bowl and sprinkle the top of each custard with about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Broil the custard (3 to 4 inches from the broiler) until the sugar caramelizes and crisps, about 5 minutes.
You can make the custard up to three days ahead of time.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.