While I love crème brûlée, I absolutely crave “vanilla bean” crème brûlée!
When we sailed Oasis of the Seas, we tried their version at dinner one night and it was absolutely delicious! The server flambéed the brûlée and it was still sizzling when it arrived at our table! I think there was a touch of rum added at the last minute!
Crème brûlée is French for burnt cream. It’s a very rich dessert (don’t even think about the calories) and the majority of recipes call for heavy cream, as in 35% heavy whipping cream! I’ve tried recipes with heavy cream and whole milk, in an effort to lighten the dessert, and while the results were good, the consistency was thinner, less creamy and required a longer bake time. I still make it this way, but true crème brûlée consists of heavy cream. It’s a very decadent dessert, so I would have to say it’s definitely a once in a while treat!
The basic recipe is super easy, just egg yolks, sugar, heavy cream and vanilla!
Adding Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans brings crème brûlée to a whole new level – an explosion of vanilla flavor combined with a beautiful presentation of hundreds of specks!
I normally make crème brûlée after a massive macaron baking fest, where I’m left with a lot of egg yolks! Another good use for all those yolks would be homemade lemon curd, but back to the crème brûlée … after trying countless recipes, here is my favorite one! It calls for both heavy cream and whole milk.
Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée
Adapted from Emeril Lagasse at foodnetwork.com
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup milk (I used whole milk)
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 6 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Place 6 ramekins on a large roasting pan and set aside
- Preheat oven to 350°F
- In a medium-sized saucepan, heat heavy cream, milk, and vanilla bean paste (from the vanilla bean) along with the pod over medium heat until small bubbles appear along the edges. Do not boil. When ready, set aside and remove the pod (don’t throw the pod away)
- Boil a large kettle full of water and set aside
- In a large heatproof bowl, whisk egg yolks with sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Start tempering by adding about ½ cup of the hot milk mixture slowly into the egg yolk mixture, while quickly whisking at the same time. Add remaining hot milk mixture and whisk to incorporate
- Place a strainer over each ramekin as you pour the egg mixture into each one. If you find it easier, you can pour the mixture back into a very large glass measuring cup or your saucepan, if it has a pourable spout
- Carefully place roasting pan in the oven (bottom third rack) and slide the oven rack out slightly (not all the way). Move all the ramekins gently to the left side
- Pour boiling hot water into the pan (on the right side) until water level reaches almost halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Using a long wooden spoon, carefully move the ramekins back in place (I find this tip helped to avoid splashing and pouring boiling water accidentally into the ramekins)!
- Bake for 30 – 45 minutes, depending on your oven temperature and the size of your ramekins. Rotate pan after 20 minutes
- Custards are done when you jiggle the ramekins and they are slightly set
- Remove carefully from oven to a cooling rack and let sit until they reach room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours (or overnight)
- When ready, take out of the fridge and blot with a paper towel, sprinkle with approximately 2 tsp of white granulated sugar. You can pick up the ramekin and move the sugar around to disperse it evenly
- Place ramekins on a heat proof baking sheet and use a torch to caramelize the sugar. Keep the torch moving in a circular pattern. It took a bit of practice and I burnt a few before perfecting it
- Let sit for a few minutes to set and enjoy!!
- If you don’t have a torch, you can use your broiler, but I’ve tried it many times and the brûlée doesn’t caramelize evenly. Also the custard gets hot and watery. If you have no alternative, let the brûlée come to room temperature and make sure your broiler is hot (475 – 500-F). Keep a very close watch. For best results, use a torch
- Visit here to watch a video on how to make and caramelize Crème Brûlée
- Don’t throw away the vanilla bean pods, rinse and dry them thoroughly, then add to a jar of granulated sugar to make vanilla sugar!