Crème Brûlée is a French term for what the English refer to as Burnt Cream. The word brûlée refers to dishes, such as custards, finished with a sugar glaze.

This simple custard is cooked and cooled.  A small amount of sugar is sprinkled on the top of the cooled custard and the sugar is caramelized using a small torch or beneath a broiler.

This classic custard inherits its' delicate flavor from the simple mixture of cream and eggs. Traditional Crème Brûlée does not use any additional flavorings such as vanilla.

Traditional Crème Brûlée

2 1/2 cups heavy cream or 1 1/4 cups heavy cream and 1 1/4 cups light cream 
4 large egg yolks, well beaten
1/4 to 1/3 cup granulated sugar*

Bring cream to a boil, and boil about 30 seconds.  Pour it immediately into the egg yolks and whisk them together.  Return the mixture to the pan and continue cooking without allowing it to boil.  Stir the mixture until it thickens and coats the spoon.  Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish.  Refrigerate overnight.

Two hours before the meal, sprinkle the chilled cream with the sugar in an even layer and place it under a broiler preheated to the maximum temperature.  The sugar will caramelize to a sheet of brown smoothness. You may need to turn the dish in the grill to achieve an even effect. It is important that this step be done very quickly in order to keep the custard cold and firm and the top crisp and brown.

*The custard in this recipe does not call for sugar. The sweetness is derived from the burnt sugar crust.

Serving size -  4 to 6


Chocolate Crème Brûlée

2 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
5 eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 teaspoons brown sugar  (for top) 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In a saucepan, over low heat, warm the chocolate and 1 cup of the cream, until the chocolate is melted. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl or a large liquid measuring cup and stir in the remaining cream.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and the granulated sugar. Whisk in the chocolate and cream mixture. Pour the mixture into six small creme Brûlée dishes, or six 4-ounce ramekins.
Place the Brûlée dishes or ramekins into a shallow baking pan. Pour hot water into the pan until it comes halfway up the outside of the Brûlée pans or ramekins. Bake in the oven for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted near the edge of the mixture comes out clean. 

The custard should be set at the edge and slightly soft in the center. Remove the dishes from the water bath and chill for at least 3 hours.
Preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the top of each Brûlée with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Place the dishes under the broiler and heat until the brown sugar melts. Serve immediately. 

Makes 6 servings


Parker House Inn Crème Brûlée

2 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons white granulated sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Scald cream in heavy-duty saucepan.  Beat yolks, sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until pale and thick. SLOWLY pour hot cream into egg mixture while beating at the lowest speed. Ladle into custard cups and place in roasting pan. Pour very hot water into pan two-thirds up the sides of the cups. Bake at 325  for 35-45 minutes. Remove cups from pan and let cool. 

DO NOT OVER BAKE - the center should be slightly soft. Chill if holding for any length of time before serving. Just before serving, sprinkle tops with granulated sugar and caramelize using either a propane torch or popping under a broiler until sugar is browned and bubbly.  Garnish with a few raspberries or other fruits if desired. 

Makes either 4 6-ounce servings or 6 4-ounce servings.


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Created by Jo Black 7.27.05