Between the creamy vanilla custard and the crisp sugar topping, the French dessert classic Crème Brûlée is the perfect combination of textures. Despite being topped with sugar, crème brûlée isn’t too sweet due to the complex flavors brought about by caramelization. Though many restaurants use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar, it can be done easily at home using your oven’s broiler.
This French crème brûlée recipe serves 6 people.
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 ¾ cup of half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract)
- 2 tablespoons of granulated or raw sugar, reserved for caramelizing
How to Make Crème Brûlée
Preheat your oven to 325F.
In a bowl, whisk together your yolks with 4 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla.
In a pot, warm your half-and-half. Slowly add into your egg yolks, drizzling in a bit at a time, while continuously whisking so as not to cook your yolks.
Fill 6 ramekins with your mixture, then place in a baking pan filled with cold water (about half the height of the ramekins), taking care not to get water into your egg mixture.
Place in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the egg mixture is no longer liquid, but still jiggles when shaken.
Chill for a minimum of 4 hours, or up to 24 hours.
To caramelize: cover evenly with the remaining sugar, then place in broiler until the desired color is reached, keeping an eye out so it doesn’t burn.
History of Crème Brûlée
Crème brûlée, a classic French dessert, has roots dating back to the 17th century in France. The exact origin is debated, with both France and England claiming its invention. The French, however, are undoubtedly credited with popularizing the dish.
The name “crème brûlée” translates to “burnt cream,” referring to the caramelized sugar crust on top. The earliest known recipe for a similar dish appeared in a 1691 French cookbook, “Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois” by Francois Massialot, a chef at the Palace of Versailles.
Over time, crème brûlée gained popularity in French cuisine, becoming a staple in upscale restaurants. Its simple yet luxurious combination of smooth custard and a crisp sugar crust has made it a beloved dessert worldwide.
These days, crème brûlée is enjoyed in various forms, with flavors like vanilla, chocolate, or fruit infusions adding a modern twist to this timeless treat!