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How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Growing up, my favorite dessert to order at a restaurant was creme brulee. Who could resist shattering that burnt sugar topping just to find creamy custard underneath? I certainly couldn’t.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee in Paris

When I visited Paris for the first time, I told my best friend that we were going to have to go somewhere to eat this famous dessert. I mean, I can’t go to Paris and not eat creme brulee, right?

My best friend knew just the place. We visited a quaint bistro on the corner of Rue du Cherche-Midi and shared a big ramekin of creme brulee between the two of us.

It was absolutely perfect. Better than perfect. The custard layer was silky smooth, without a trace of scrambled egg.

The topping was burnt to perfection, producing a crisp shatter when poked at with my spoon. As I sat there licking my spoon in pure delight, I thought to myself that Paris suited me very well.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Making Creme Brulee At Home

Alas, reality swooped in and I had to come back home where perfect creme brulee was hard to come by. Instead, I decided to give it a try at home for another chance to have my senses enveloped by fragrant vanilla and sugar.

Making creme brulee at home is less intimidating than you might think. If you’ve made your own custard or pastry cream before, then you know the importance of tempering your eggs and whisking vigorously.

The batter is poured into individual ramekins, which are then placed in a bain-marie (a water bath) and baked at a low temperature for about 1 hour. The batter will look slightly set when it’s done, but should still have a good tremble when it’s given a shake.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Using the Broiler

Traditionally, the custard is cooled then covered in a sprinkling of sugar before it’s torched. A torch is handy in giving the creme brulee that burnt topping without really heating the rest of the previously chilled creme.

But there’s a workaround if you don’t have a torch. After cooling the custard and sprinkling sugar on top, you can simply place the ramekins directly under your oven broiler, and carefully watch the sugar burn and form that glorious topping.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Creme brulee is a wonderful dessert for a dinner party, as you can make it ahead (minus the last minute sugar topping). You could also cut this recipe in half and make it for you and your special someone for a birthday, anniversary, or Valentine’s Day. Nothing says I love you like a ramekin full of creme brulee.

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If you are looking for a classic, phenomenon, and easy to bake dessert, crème brulee is the best one out there. You will surely fall in love with the crisp and caramelized top under the vanilla-scented custard. For ages, it has been an emblem of valentine. So, why not bake it at home? Making a custard in a cup is pretty simple, but that caramel of sugar-coated on top of custard is where the art lies. The easiest way is to use a torch. However, in case you do not have one, how can you torch crème brulee without a torch?

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Ways to Torch Crème Brulee without a Torch

If you fell utterly addictive to crème brulee, maybe eating it in a restaurant, you should try making it at home. Every recipe will recommend you to use a torch to make it. But, no need to worry in case you have no butane torch to caramelize the sugar.

To torch a crème brulee you do not need any blowtorch or strong baking skills. Torching crème brulee without a torch is every bit possible and requires only a few preparations beforehand.

There are several ways you can make a crème brulee at home, and you will not need a torch. The most practical method is to broil the dessert. Additionally, you can also use a spoon to caramelize the sugar. Finally, the most surprising way is to use a candle or grill lighter to torch crème brulee.

Using the Broiler to Torch Crème Brulee

Broiling the crème brulee is a convenient approach in torching the sugar on top. All you need for this is an oven with broiler mode, and you are good to go.

To make the custard first, you will need egg yolks, granulated sugar, whipped cream, vanilla extract, and a bit salt. Before initiating the baking process, preheat the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the oven is preheating, you will need to whisk the egg yolks with sugar in a bowl. You will know the batter is ready when it has a creamy texture with lemon color. Next, add the whipped cream, vanilla, and salt until it is smooth and combined.

After that, pout the whole batter in a ramekin filling a quarter of it. Now, place a baking pan inside the preheated oven filling it with water, but not completely. Next, place the ramekin on the baking pan and start the baking. It will take about an hour to complete, while you check it every 5 minutes after the 40-minute mark.

Once the custard has been baked, set it in a refrigerator or cool environment for about an hour. After the custard has been completely set, you are now ready to torch it in the oven. First, set the oven in broiling mode. Again place the ramekin on a baking pan, this time without any water. Just before you put the baking pan inside the oven, sprinkle some sugar on top. Now let the baked custard broil in oven for about 3 to 5 minutes. After hearing the ting sound of the oven, you will see the sugar has turned into brown, crispy, and caramelly crust.

Using Spoon to Torch Crème Brulee

You can also use a spoon to create the crisp on top of the crème brulee. This may look surprising, but it is quite popular and gets the job done.

You will need the same ingredients to make the custard. These are egg yolks, sugar, whipped cream, vanilla beans or extracts, and a bit salt. Additionally, you can use mascarpone as well.

At first, split the vanilla beans with a knife vertically and place them with whipped cream on a saucepan. Boil the mixture in medium heat for a few minutes and then set aside.

Now, take a bowl and whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the batter is smooth, creamy and lemony in color. You can add some cream here as well. After that, pour all the mixture on the saucepan and keep on whisking slowly.

Now you can add the mascarpone and remove the vanilla beans. Let them settle for an hour on their own while the oven is being preheated at 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, pour the mixture in a ramekin and place the ramekin inside the oven on a baking pan half-filled with water. Bake it for an hour, by repeating the previous procedure. Thus, the custard is ready.

After removing the custard, cool it down by keeping it in the refrigerator for an hour. Following this, you are now ready to make the caramelized topping. Sprinkle some sugar on top of the custard. Take a spoon that is not so favored by you and hold it on stove flame until it looks red. Remove the spoon from the stove and immediately place it on top of the crème brulee to burn the sugar on top of it. After a few moments, the top layer is crisp and caramelized, just like you desired it to be.

Using Candle or Grill Lighter

While this may be quite surprising and unexpected, using a candle or lighter to torch crème brulee is quite effective.

You may not have an oven to prepare your custard, but you can definitely make it on the stove. You can make custard with the same ingredient and almost the same process as mentioned above, only instead of using an oven, you can use a pressure cooker. If you do not have a blowtorch or do not want to use a spoon, you can easily use other fire resources.

What you need to do is, light the sugar on fire with the lighter immediately after sprinkling sugar on top of the custard. However, there are some setbacks. The process takes a lot of time, and you will have to wait forever for a small amount of sugar to melt. So, this may be a good option when the sprinkled sugar has a thin layer, and the surface area is small. You would also need a pretty powerful lighter.

Conclusion

Having the best caramel topping on the crème brulee is imperative as it carries the most impressive experience of the dessert. Although using a blowtorch would be the best option, these 3 methods are very effective and save a lot of trouble. The primary purpose is to let the sugar caramel set on top of the custard. So, you can choose any method to torch the crème brulee without a torch to create the crisp, brown, and caramelly topping.

Updated: Sep 29, 2020 · Published: Feb 6, 2020 · by Nicole · This post contains affiliate links.

5 ingredients is all it takes to make a creme brulee that tastes even better than your favorite restaurant. This creme brulee recipe is easy, and absolutley decadent, down to the last drop.

You might be surprised at how easy creme brulee is to make at home. I will give a fool-proof recipe that is great for serving up your family or a crowd.

Creme Brulee

Velvety smooth, creamy, and a sweet sugar crust that is so rewarding as you break into with a spoon.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

What Does Creme Brulee Taste Like

Creme brulee is a very creamy custard that has a somewhat burnt sugar topping that many love. You will love the smooth and rich filling and the sugar topping really adds a nice texture to the brulee.

Creme Brulee is a dessert that is very well known at restaurants. It can be a little pricey to order since it takes a little bit extra TLC to make. But every bite tends to be worth it.

  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee
  • How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Can You Overcook Creme Brulee

Just like with any recipe you can undercook over overcook your Brulee. You want to try and use the right size ramekins and watch the cooking time.

Ensure the center is fully cooked before you remove it from the oven. Sometimes people think it is done when the center is still a bit undercooked.

How Long Can You Store Brulee In Fridge

You can store your brulee in the fridge for up to three days. It is best when served within the first 24 hours of being made. But if you want to wait feel free to use within three days.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Is Creme Brulee Served Warm or Cold

You will find this dessert can be cold or warm. You will still want to top with sugar and torch the top right before serving. It is up to you if you prefer it at a warm texture or chilled.

I am a fan of both, and I love it chilled after it has sat in the fridge and fully cooled.

Check out more easy dessert recipes

  • French Chocolate Mousse | If you are craving a rich and velvety mousse this recipe is screaming your name. I am a huge fan of this recipe, and I think you will be too.
  • Blueberry Galette Tart | Love a good blueberry dessert? This recipe is so simple to make and full of blueberry flavor in every single bite.
  • Cool Strawberry Whipped Dessert | Here is another fruit filled dessert that many will love. Serve in spring and summer for a cool refreshing dessert.
  • Pina Colada Pie | This dessert will make you think of a tropical vacation. It’s full of pina colada flavor and tropical goodness.
  • Creme Brulee Cheesecake | This is an Instant Pot Cheesecake recipe with a Creme Brulee twist you’re going to LOVE.

Heavy Cream vs Milk

If you want an ultra rich and creamy brulee you need to use heavy cream. I think there are some recipes that use milk but I have found heavy cream to be an essential ingredient that can not be substituted.

Why Did My Creme Brulee Curdle

Overheating can cause the dish to curdle. The goal is low and slow and don’t turn the heat up to speed up the process.

If you do this you can get that curdled texture to where the eggs almost scramble instead of give you that creamy recipe.

Is Creme Brulee and Custard the Same Thing

Creme Brulee is a baked custard that is topped with a caramelized sugar glaze. A kitchen torch is used to get the ‘burnt’ sugar topping that Creme Brulee is known for.

Custard is a bit different in the process of how it is made. Same concept but you will find the technique of how it is made will be different between the two.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Is There Raw Eggs in Creme Brulee

The eggs are fully cooked in this dessert. You will find many are not sure if you can eat brulee when pregnant. This recipe fully cooks the eggs so that it makes it safe to consume.

Other recipes like tiramisu or even a homemade slow-churned ice cream can have raw eggs. But this dessert indeed fully cooks the eggs.

If you are a fan of Creme Brulee you have to try my version. You will love the ease of the recipe, simple ingredients and the final result is absolutely phenomenal.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Just what is it about crème brûlée? Even the words sound unattainably fancy; the sort of dish better left to a swanky French restaurant (you know, the kind with white tablecloths and snooty mustachioed waiters). We won’t lie: It’s not as easy to make as no-bake drop-cookies. But once you’ve ID’d the most common ways to screw it up, and how to avoid them, you’ll be cracking into a perfectly torched sugar crust in no time. These are the most common mistakes people make with this iconic dessert.

These ramekins are great for traditional puddings and pots de crème, but they don’t have enough surface area for a crème brûlée sugar crust. Photo: Alex Lau

Crème brûlée is traditionally baked in a wide, shallow ramekin. If you plan on making it at home, you’ll need to invest in a few. The deeper 4- to 6-ounce ceramic pots used for most other puddings and pots de crème aren’t an adequate substitution. Because they’re deeper, the pudding takes longer to bake, meaning your crème brûlée base will be overcooked at the edges and undercooked in the center. Additionally, and most importantly, the whole point of this dessert is the expansive caramelized crust of sugar. The wide and shallow ramekin allows for optimal sugar-to-pudding radio, and a more impressive crust.

The pudding portion of crème brûlée should be trembling and tender, but still rich and creamy. That’s why egg yolks, rather than whole eggs, are used, explains Rick Martinez, BA’s associate food editor. Whites help set pudding, giving it a firmer texture. For this dish, use just the yolks and save the whites for another recipe, like meringue.

Water is the enemy of perfectly smooth pudding. Photo: Gentl & Hyers

Puddings are baked in a hot water bath to retain their silky-smooth texture (the water conducts heat, baking them more gently and evenly). But a hot water batch is a danger zone for pudding: Getting water in the mix will ruin the texture, giving it a pebbled surface and soggy interior. Avoid this problem with a tip from Martinez: wrap the bottoms and sides of your ramekins with aluminum foil that reaches up higher than the ramekin. This “fence” helps guard against any splashes as you transport the water bath. Additionally, you can wait until the ramekins are in a pan in the oven before pouring boiling water in the pan. This minimizes any potential for spilling.

This is not the time for your fancy, raw and organic coconut sugar. “You really need to use white granulated sugar,” says senior food editor Chris Morocco. The small granules caramelize quickly, meaning the sugar won’t get overly burnt and the pudding won’t melt. Also, he points out: The white crystals provide a visual cue as you’re torching it. As soon as the white sugar turns a golden brown, you know you’re close. The crystals of raw sugar are already brown, making it harder to know if you’re overshooting the mark.

Yes, you absolutely need a kitchen torch for this task. Morocco’s pick is found at most hardware stores and will run you around $20. Don’t even think about trying to replicate the effect under a broiler. No matter how hawk-eyed you are, it’s nearly impossible to get the perfect amount of color without burning it to a crisp. Besides, points out, test kitchen contributor Lily Freedman, you’ll never get as evenly cooked a crust as you will with a torch.

  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 3 hr 30 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Inactive: 2 hr 15 min
  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients

1 quart heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 cup vanilla sugar, divided

6 large egg yolks

2 quarts hot water

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How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.
  4. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Remove the creme brulee from the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes prior to browning the sugar on top. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup vanilla sugar equally among the 6 dishes and spread evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar and form a crispy top. Allow the creme brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Propane gas torches are highly flammable and should be kept away from heat, open flame and prolonged exposure to sunlight. They should be used only in well-ventilated areas. Follow torch manufacturer’s instructions for use.

Do you think that making restaurant-quality desserts requires a pastry degree and tons of special equipment? Well, you’re wrong. To prove the point, here’s a tutorial on how to make crème brûlée without a torch. This recipe is downright simple: it requires less than 10 minutes of prep work, requires no special equipment, minimal dishes to clean, and yields a delicious result.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Make creamy, dreamy custards at home!

Impress with classic crème brûlée, decadent lemon curd, satisfying panna cotta and more! Popular instructor Gale Gand shows you how to whip up these crowd-pleasing treats in these HD video lessons. Enroll Now »

You’ll attain champion cook status at your next party when you whip up this easy crème brûlée recipe, featuring a smooth, creamy vanilla-scented custard with a crisp caramelized top that cracks perfectly when your spoon makes contact. Ooh la la!

How to make crème brûlée without a torch

Makes 4 (8-ounce) ramekin servings

For the custard:

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

For the topping:

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Step 1:

Position a rack in the middle position of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Have your ramekins and a large casserole pan off to the side, at the ready.

Step 2:

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar. Whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes creamy, cohesive and lemony in color. Add the cream, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth and combined.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Step 3:

Carefully divide the mixture between your four ramekins. It should fill them about 2/3 to 3/4 full. If your ramekins have bubbles on the sides, try your best to pop them with the side of a spoon.

Step 4:

Pour about 1/3 inch of water in your baking pan. Place the ramekins in the water, so that the sides are submerged. The water should come about halfway up the ramekins. If the water level is too low, gently pour more water in the side of the pan, avoiding sloshing water into the ramekins.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Step 5:

Place the baking pan with the ramekins in the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking every 5 minutes after the 40 minute mark. The cook time can vary depending on the thickness of your ramekins. You’re looking for the custard to be mostly “set” with a little jiggle in the middle. Remove the pan from the oven, and gently remove the ramekins from the hot water by lifting with a spatula. Set on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool for about an hour. You want the custard to be completely set before moving forward.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Step 6:

Near the end of your cooling time, set the oven to the broil setting. Place the ramekins back on a baking dish (no need for a water both this time). Make sure that the tops of your custards are free of condensation (their naturally moist texture is fine, but you don’t want any beads of moisture). If needed, gently blot the tops with a clean paper towel. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over the tops of the custards.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Step 7:

Place the baking pan in under the broiler for 3-5 minutes, monitoring closely, or until the sugar has melted into a satisfyingly crispy, browned crust. Enjoy your perfect crème brûlée!

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Make creamy, dreamy custards at home!

Impress with classic crème brûlée, decadent lemon curd, satisfying panna cotta and more! Popular instructor Gale Gand shows you how to whip up these crowd-pleasing treats in these HD video lessons. Enroll Now »

Are you like me?

  • With a temperamental broiler in your kitchen/oven? The net effect of which is no broiling?
  • Without a blow torch for reasons of border control and air travel rules & regulations?
  • Yet with a deep desire to crack a sugar glass crust? Specifically creme brûlée, restaurant-style…….in your own kitchen.

Never has burnt cream been so appealing. To me! Say it with me (French accent et al). Creme Brûlée. crem broo lay.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee A cracked crust is the best kind for a creme brûlée

That luscious dessert of just-set custard, with a wonderful chapeau (topping) of crackable caramel.

According to Wikipedia, Discs of caramel may be prepared separately and put on top of the creme brûlée just before serving, or the caramel may be formed directly on top of the custard, immediately before serving. To do this, sugar is sprinkled onto the custard, then caramelized under a broiler / salamander or with a blow torch.

So fair enough you can make the caramel separately but would you want to do that? And if so, do tell why. For I think it is so much trouble to do. Hence my ‘other’ option.

Use a spoon! Yes, a spoon. A heated spoon.

Technique: A large cooking spoon is heated on the stove top/flame. This is pressed down on the ‘sugar-top’ of a cold, set custard to create a crust that can be cracked with a spoon, to reveal creamy custard underneath.

Application: Creme Brûlée! The iconic dessert.

Results: A well-defined, ‘breakable’ caramel top which is exactly how you want your Creme Brûlée

Level: Easy

Why I like it: If you don’t have a functional broiler in your oven, or a blowtorch, this dessert is still accomplishable!

A few weeks ago, on the Food52 Hotline, I asked a question, desperate to buy a blow torch to make creme brûlée. The question was ‘How to get a blowtorch across continents? I’ve decided to get a blow torch when I’m in the US in the summer. How can I get it home with me to Nigeria. Anyone travelled on an airplane with one? or cargoed it? Help!’

The responses over a few days brought me lots of laughter and finally a solution to my brûlée dilemma.

A dilemma I was in because of a delicious lemongrass creme brûlée I had in Edinburgh at my sisters spring wedding.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee Dessert deliciousness

Served with a whiskey granite, summer berries and a mixed sesame seed snap, it brought joy and freshness to the palate and plate.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee Totally cleaned ramekin!

With a towering pot of lemongrass gracing my front yard, I felt the custard was no big deal. The crackling top of burnt sugar would be the real challenge.

So on to the hotline it was. I got varied advice from using plumbing blowtorches meant for welding copper pipes to being careful to avoid trouble by going against safety regulations. We had a plumber from Frankston plumber agency come in to fix a few of our sinks because the water pressure was to high and we almost had him try to use his blowtorch.

But one tip held promise and that came from Cris aka Mensaque, from Brazil.

She wrote ‘Here’s another idea for you…….on how to brûler your crème: spread the sugar over the custard,take a big metal spoon or a spatula,heat it on your stove burner and and press it on the sugar till brown. Works like a charm!’

I was thrilled. There was the possibility of success and sooner than I hoped!

Cris writes more: “Hey, KB. How kind of you to send me a message…thank you. I’m glad I could help. I’m from Brazil, and over here (at least in my hometown) it is almost impossible to find a good blowtorch small enough to be considered practical in the kitchen, so I feel your pain, hahaha!

I learned the “hot spoon technique” from a chef (can’t remember his name) on a culinary TV show in Brazil and it works very well,vlike your photos prove. All the best,
Cris. (aka mensaque)”

I wasted no time in whipping up a custard and trying out the heated spoon method which worked to the book. And letter.

Cris and I, bound by history, culture, place….and the inability to find blowtorches have conquered the brûlée and so can you!

Directions

(This assumes already made ‘custards’, which have been chilled for at least 4 hours in the refrigerator)

Remove custards in ramekins from the refrigerator.

Dab the tops with a paper towel to remove any water or condensed liquid.

Evenly sprinkle caster sugar over the top of each custard – I used 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of sugar for a normal-sized ramekin.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Heat up a large cooking spoon, being careful to protect your hand from a handle that could get hot. I held mine with a kitchen pad, though it didn’t get extraordinarily hot. BE CAREFUL.

I used a ladle – as I have 2 ladles, I have decided to dedicate one to a life of caramel, knowing the bottom may be darkened forever.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Place the heated spoon over the sugared top of custard and listen for the sizzle, smell the caramel and watch burnt sugar being made….right before your eyes!

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

A work of art! And it only takes a few seconds for the magic to happen!!

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

You can repeat if not all parts have been heated.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Truth is, you will be rewarded with an impressive, restaurant-style brûlée! Made in your kitchen……without fire and brimstone! And yes, with blackened spoon in tow.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Get stuck in. Crack that crust. Thank me, thank Mensaque. Enjoy yourself!

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Now to perfect that custard! Coming soon to a screen near you!

Have you ever come across this idea? Do you have other top tips for creating a brûlée?

Impress your family and friends with this delicate and delicious Creme Brulee Recipe – a perfect dessert for entertaining. Plus get tips for using a Chef’s Torch.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Using My New Chef’s Torch

I haven’t said anything about any gifts I received at Christmas, but I have to tell about one Luke gave me. It was something I have been wanting for a long time, and I was super excited to open the package to find a chef’s torch! Fun, right?

I absolutely love Creme Brulee, and now I will be able to make my own at home… yum. There are lots of other things a chef’s torch will come in handy for around the kitchen too. And, the new torch will save on mess and potential danger as well.

This past Thanksgiving, I had my candied sweet potatoes in the oven to toast the marshmallows on top. When I went to pull them out of the oven, the caught on fire. I was gently blowing on them to dissipate the flame, when Luke’s nephew (who was carving the turkey), turned around did his imitation of the Big Bad Wolf. The flames went out, but about a third of the marshmallows sprayed all over the inside of my oven. We all had a great laugh, but it did add extra clean up for the oven. The remaining marshmallows were — shall we say — extra toasty. Had I a chef;s torch at that time, we would have enjoyed a perfectly toasted, fully covered marshmallow-topped sweet potato dish, but we would have lost this great family story.

Tips for Using a Chef’s Torch or Cooking Torch:

A chef’s torch is a fantastic kitchen gadget. Here are some ways in which you can use a chef’s torch:

  • Give desserts and fruits a Caramelized Sugar Top
    • Creme Brulee, puddings
    • strawberries, peaches
  • Fire Roast or Char fresh fruits and vegetables
    • pineapple rings, grapefruit, apricots, strawberries
    • tomatoes, peppers
  • Toast toppings
    • marshmallows, marshmallow creme
    • meringue
    • cheese
  • Flambe desserts and dishes
    • Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee
    • Steak Diane
  • Crusting a Glaze on meats/poultry/fish and vegetables
    • ham, steak, salmon
    • root vegetables

So, now let’s get to the tasty recipe!

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée is a silky smooth custard with a caramelized top. Crack through the shell for a delicate and delicious dessert. Impress your family and friends. Perfect for entertaining.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups – Heavy Cream
  • 4 Tablespoons plus 2/3 cup – Granulated Sugar
  • 4 – Extra Large or Jumbo Egg Yolks
  • 1 teaspoon – Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F
  2. Prepare Boiling Water
  3. In a saucepan, combine Heavy Cream and 4 Tablespoons Sugar, Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan — 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place Egg Yolks in a large bowl, be sure to remove all whites from the yolks. Beat Egg Yolks and Vanilla Extract until smooth and light.
  5. Very SLOWLY, a little at a time (drips and drabs), add the cream mixture to the egg yolks, BEATING CONTINUOUSLY to temper the egg yolks and combine until well blended.
  6. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl or measuring cup with a pouring spout. Divide mixture among four 4-oz. shallow ramekins.
  7. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and place on middle shelf of preheated oven. Fill the pan with boiling water, CAREFUL not to splash any water into the custard mixture, until water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until custard is just set, it should still have a slight wobble, about 25 minutes. Let cool at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes; then, chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
  8. Sprinkle remain sugar evenly over the top of the cooled custards. Use the chef’s torch in a circular motion, moving the flame continuously over the custard surface until sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use. Serving suggestion: serve with fresh berries or cut-up fruit.

**NOTE** Remember to follow the safety directions for your cooking torch. If you do not have a chef’s torch, you can use the oven broiler to caramelize the sugar topping. Watch very closely.

Many beginner bakers are SHOCKED at how easy creme brûlée is! Only 6 ingredients required and if you follow my success tips, you’ll be gifted with the smoothest, creamiest dessert ever.

Flecked with espresso and flavored with pure vanilla, this is my favorite crème brûlée recipe. The brilliantly creamy custard can only be reached by cracking through a crisp caramelized sugar ceiling. The textural difference between the two layers is unbelievable and separates this dessert from every other. Simply put, crème brûlée tastes like luxury.

The GREAT news is that you don’t need to dine at a fancy restaurant for the best crème brûlée experience. Not many realize how easy it is to make at home, not to mention several dollars cheaper than the $12 price tag you pay at a restaurant.

How to Make Crème Brûlée at Home

  1. Start with kitchen staples: heavy cream, sugar, egg yolks, salt, vanilla. I like adding a little espresso powder for added flavor. What a difference it makes! I know many may not have espresso powder at the ready, so it’s an optional ingredient. But trust me when I say that espresso powder makes a good crème brûlée the best crème brûlée.
  2. Cook: Heat the heavy cream + salt on the stove. Off heat, add vanilla to flavor. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Temper the egg yolk mixture by slowly whisking in some of the warm heavy cream. Pour into ramekins and bake. Let them cool down, then chill for at least 4 hours or even overnight. (Overnight makes crème brûlée an AWESOME make ahead dessert and your guests will be entertained when you whip out that kitchen torch for the topping!)
  3. Top with: sugar, then caramelize it under the broiler or with a kitchen torch.

That’s it, you’re done. Yes, it really is this easy!

Crème Brûlée Success Tips

  • Best ratio: Heavy cream and egg yolks are the key ingredients in crème brûlée. It took a little bit of testing to figure out the best ratio, but I loved 5 egg yolks with 3 cups of heavy cream the most. This produces a VERY creamy and lush crème brûlée. Save the leftover egg whites and add them to omelets and scrambled eggs the next few mornings.
  • Temper egg yolks: If you’ve never done it before, tempering egg yolks is nothing to fear– all you’re doing is slowly raising the temperature of the egg yolks so they don’t scramble. Whisk *some* of the warm heavy cream into the egg yolks + sugar, then whisk it all into the pot of warm heavy cream. You can watch me temper the egg yolks in the video tutorial.
  • Should I strain it? Straining the custard before cooking it is, in my opinion, optional. If you notice the custard is thick with any lumps, definitely use your sieve to strain it before baking.
  • Shallow ramekins: Serve crème brûlée in individual ramekins. The small ramekins ensure the custard cooks evenly, though you could use a large wide ceramic dish instead. See my recipe note below. I love using individual wide, shallow ramekins so there is more surface area for the caramelized sugar! I suggest these oval ramekins or these circle ramekins. (This recipe yields about 8-10 crème brûlées so you’ll need 2 sets of the oval ramekins OR you can bake the extra custard in other ramekins you may have.)
  • Water bath: Place the ramekins in a large baking dish (I used a 9×13-inch baking pan), pour the custard in each, then fill the pan with hot water. The water bath creates a moist and humid environment for the crème brûlée, which is imperative for their texture. (Same story for lemon pudding cakes.) A regular hot oven typically produces rubber-y tasting crème brûlée with cracked surfaces.
  • Best bake time: You will likely over-bake the crème brûlée your first time. That’s what my friend told me before I began my crème brûlée adventures. They key, he said, is to look for a jiggly center. The edges will be set, the centers will jiggle like jello. (Anyone ever watch My Best Friend’s Wedding with Julia Roberts? Crème brûlée can never be jell-o. YOU could never be jell-o.) For a more accurate answer, use an instant read thermometer. They’re done when the thermometer registers 170°F (77°C).

By the way… my friend was right, I over-baked them my first try. The next few tries, pictured in this post, are texture perfection. You want that creamy custard. Learn from my mistake and take those custards out of the oven early.

Burnt Sugar Topping

Crème = cream. Brûlée = burnt. Burnt cream. So as many times as I say “caramelized sugar” it’s really burnt sugar. It’s the CRUNCH on the CREAM and it’s so so tasty!

After the custards bake, cool, and chill, it’s time for that special finishing touch. All we’re doing here is sprinkling the surface with granulated sugar. Some recipes insist on superfine sugar for the topping and some recipes call for coarse sugar. I tested the recipe with both, but ended up just using regular granulated sugar– the same sugar we’ll use in the custard themselves. It produced a thick and sturdy caramelized sugar topping, just the kind we want! One important note: Cover the entire surface with a thin layer of granulated sugar. No exposed custard. When applied to heat, the cooled custard will curdle.

Kitchen Torch or Oven Broiler?

For caramelizing, you need intense heat. A kitchen torch is magic! (I know many of you have one from the June Baking Challenge!) If not, look into purchasing one. Kitchen torches are surprisingly inexpensive and the couple times a year that I need it, I’m glad I have one. It really makes a difference. Other recipes where I use my kitchen torch:

See my recipe notes for using the oven broiler instead.

Burnt sugar on creamy custard = simple beauty and decadence. Doesn’t this make you feel fancy? We should be wearing pearls and eating our crème brûlées with crystal spoons while sitting on our gold thrones calling each other on our diamond encrusted phones talking about how fancy we are.

Impress your family and friends with this delicate and delicious Creme Brulee Recipe – a perfect dessert for entertaining. Plus get tips for using a Chef’s Torch.

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Using My New Chef’s Torch

I haven’t said anything about any gifts I received at Christmas, but I have to tell about one Luke gave me. It was something I have been wanting for a long time, and I was super excited to open the package to find a chef’s torch! Fun, right?

I absolutely love Creme Brulee, and now I will be able to make my own at home… yum. There are lots of other things a chef’s torch will come in handy for around the kitchen too. And, the new torch will save on mess and potential danger as well.

This past Thanksgiving, I had my candied sweet potatoes in the oven to toast the marshmallows on top. When I went to pull them out of the oven, the caught on fire. I was gently blowing on them to dissipate the flame, when Luke’s nephew (who was carving the turkey), turned around did his imitation of the Big Bad Wolf. The flames went out, but about a third of the marshmallows sprayed all over the inside of my oven. We all had a great laugh, but it did add extra clean up for the oven. The remaining marshmallows were — shall we say — extra toasty. Had I a chef;s torch at that time, we would have enjoyed a perfectly toasted, fully covered marshmallow-topped sweet potato dish, but we would have lost this great family story.

Tips for Using a Chef’s Torch or Cooking Torch:

A chef’s torch is a fantastic kitchen gadget. Here are some ways in which you can use a chef’s torch:

  • Give desserts and fruits a Caramelized Sugar Top
    • Creme Brulee, puddings
    • strawberries, peaches
  • Fire Roast or Char fresh fruits and vegetables
    • pineapple rings, grapefruit, apricots, strawberries
    • tomatoes, peppers
  • Toast toppings
    • marshmallows, marshmallow creme
    • meringue
    • cheese
  • Flambe desserts and dishes
    • Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee
    • Steak Diane
  • Crusting a Glaze on meats/poultry/fish and vegetables
    • ham, steak, salmon
    • root vegetables

So, now let’s get to the tasty recipe!

How to Make a Sugar Topping for a Creme Brulee

Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée is a silky smooth custard with a caramelized top. Crack through the shell for a delicate and delicious dessert. Impress your family and friends. Perfect for entertaining.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups – Heavy Cream
  • 4 Tablespoons plus 2/3 cup – Granulated Sugar
  • 4 – Extra Large or Jumbo Egg Yolks
  • 1 teaspoon – Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F
  2. Prepare Boiling Water
  3. In a saucepan, combine Heavy Cream and 4 Tablespoons Sugar, Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan — 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place Egg Yolks in a large bowl, be sure to remove all whites from the yolks. Beat Egg Yolks and Vanilla Extract until smooth and light.
  5. Very SLOWLY, a little at a time (drips and drabs), add the cream mixture to the egg yolks, BEATING CONTINUOUSLY to temper the egg yolks and combine until well blended.
  6. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a bowl or measuring cup with a pouring spout. Divide mixture among four 4-oz. shallow ramekins.
  7. Arrange ramekins in a baking pan and place on middle shelf of preheated oven. Fill the pan with boiling water, CAREFUL not to splash any water into the custard mixture, until water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil. Bake until custard is just set, it should still have a slight wobble, about 25 minutes. Let cool at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes; then, chill in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours.
  8. Sprinkle remain sugar evenly over the top of the cooled custards. Use the chef’s torch in a circular motion, moving the flame continuously over the custard surface until sugar melts and becomes golden brown and bubbly. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later use. Serving suggestion: serve with fresh berries or cut-up fruit.

**NOTE** Remember to follow the safety directions for your cooking torch. If you do not have a chef’s torch, you can use the oven broiler to caramelize the sugar topping. Watch very closely.