Crème Brûlée (with fruit!)

By 7 m read

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Crème brûlée is a sweet custard with a brittle coating of caramelized sugar on top. In other words, it’s a heavenly, light dessert with only five simple ingredients…and deceptively easy to make.

 

Crème brûlée simply means burnt cream, although that description is a little misleading. The creamy custard is smooth and glorious, and not burned at all. It’s the caramelized sugar topping that’s “burnt”…and boy is it good!

 

A few weeks ago (okay, a couple months ago), our son-in-law, Fred, asked me to make rhubarb crème brûlée for the website, as he knows that we grow rhubarb in our garden. I told him that was a fantastic idea! But then I got to thinking…why be limited by only rhubarb? I could make a simple crème brûlée, and then add lots of different fruits and other yummy ingredients! Rhubarb and strawberries and blueberries to get started. I’ll keep adding more to this crème brûlée recipe over the next weeks and months, so come back and visit us again for more ideas!

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Crème Brûlée Ingredients

2 c heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 large egg yolks (save the whites for breakfast)

10 Tbsp granulated sugar

Pinch of salt

Extra sugar for topping

Note: This will make about six 4-oz ramekins of crème brûlée…or about 8 if you’re adding fruit to the bottom (as you’ll use less custard with those).

 

Special Equipment

Culinary torch

4 ounce ramekins

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

How To Make Crème Brûlée

Heat the oven to 325°F and start a kettle of water on the stove.

 

In a pot, over low-medium heat, warm up the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt, just until hot, stirring occasionally.

 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Once the cream mixture is hot, remove from heat. Ladle out 1/2 c and slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously (this will temper the eggs so they don’t scramble).

 

Next, slowly pour this egg-cream mixture into the pot of cream, also whisking continuously, until smooth. It will still be quite runny and not custard-like at this point…completely normal.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Place the ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides and fill each cup to about 3/4 full with the custard mixture.

 

At this point, your kettle of water should be boiling and the oven temperature should be ready. Pour the very hot water from the kettle into the baking dish, to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to spill any water into the ramekins themselves. This is called a bain-marie, or a water bath, and will help the custard cook evenly.

 

Tip: If you’re a bit nervous about carrying a dish of boiling hot water across the kitchen to the stove, you can do this instead: Place the dish (with the ramekins already in it) on the oven rack and then fill it with the hot water.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the custard is still a little jiggly in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

 

Once the ramekins are cool enough to handle, carefully remove them from the baking pan (be careful, the water may still be quite hot!) and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Brûlée Topping

I know, the waiting was tough. But you’ve struggled through and waited hours for this amazing treat, and now the time is finally here!

 

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar on top of each one and turn on the torch! Holding the torch a few inches away, repeatedly pass it over the surface of each custard. The sugar will bubble up a little bit and start to turn a beautiful caramel color (because: caramelization!). This will take a little practice, but just remember, you can always go back and brûlée it some more…but you can’t remove burnt sugar.

Creme brulee (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Let cool for a few minutes, serve, and enjoy! When you break the brûléed caramelized top with a spoon, it should make a satisfying “crack”.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Rhubarb Crème Brûlée

Okay, Fred, you asked for it, so let’s make some rhubarb crème brûlée!

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Rhubarb Crème Brûlée Ingredients

All crème brûlée ingredients above, plus:

1/2 lb rhubarb stalks, chopped into small pieces

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1/4 c water

1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger (optional)

 

Mix rhubarb, sugars, water, and ginger (optional) in a pot over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. The rhubarb will soften and the mixture will thicken. If you’d like the rhubarb in even smaller pieces, like I did, after it has finished cooking, use a potato masher to get a slightly smoother consistency.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Prepare crème brûlée as above, except first put a layer of rhubarb compote in the bottom of each ramekin, then pour the custard mixture over top, and bake as usual. Note, however, that as there is slightly less custard in each ramekin, the cooking time may be slightly less.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Blueberry Crème Brûlée

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Blueberry Crème Brûlée Ingredients

All crème brûlée ingredients above, plus:

1-1/2 c blueberries

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp water

 

Mix blueberries, sugar, and water, in a pot over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. The blueberries will soften and start to burst, and the mixture will thicken.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Prepare crème brûlée as above, except first put a layer of blueberry compote in the bottom of each ramekin, then pour the custard mixture over top, and bake as usual. Note, however, that as there is slightly less custard in each ramekin, the cooking time may be slightly less.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Strawberry Crème Brûlée

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Strawberry Crème Brûlée Ingredients

All crème brûlée ingredients above, plus:

8 large strawberries, cored and sliced

2 Tbsp granulated sugar

1 Tbsp water

 

Mix strawberries, sugar, and water, in a pot over low-medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. The strawberries will soften and the mixture will thicken.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Prepare crème brûlée as above, except first put a layer of blueberry compote in the bottom of each ramekin, then pour the custard mixture over top, and bake as usual. Note, however, that as there is slightly less custard in each ramekin, the cooking time may be slightly less.

Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
(Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Can you make crème brûlée ahead of time?

Yes…and no. While you can certainly make the cream mixture and even the custard the day before (stored in the fridge), the brûléeing must be done just before serving.

 

Love desserts? Check out a few more of our delicious recipes now!

 

Did you make this Crème Brûlée? Let us know in the comments below!

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Creme brulee (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is a sweet custard with a brittle coating of caramelized sugar on top. In other words, it's a heavenly, light dessert with only five simple ingredients...and deceptively easy to make.
Total Time 50 mins
Servings 6

Equipment

  • Culinary torch
  • 4 ounce ramekins

Ingredients
  

  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 10 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • Extra sugar for topping

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oven to 325°F and start a kettle of water on the stove.
  • In a pot, over low-medium heat, warm up the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt, just until hot, stirring occasionally.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth.
  • Once the cream mixture is hot, remove from heat. Ladle out 1/2 c and slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking continuously (this will temper the eggs so they don’t scramble).
  • Next, slowly pour this egg-cream mixture into the pot of cream, also whisking continuously, until smooth.
  • Place the ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides and fill each cup to about 3/4 full with the custard mixture.
  • At this point, your kettle of water should be boiling and the oven temperature should be ready. Pour the very hot water from the kettle into the baking dish, to about halfway up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to spill any water into the ramekins themselves.
  • Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the custard is still a little jiggly in the center.
  • Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
  • Once the ramekins are cool enough to handle, carefully remove them from the baking pan (be careful, the water may still be quite hot!) and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar on top of each one and turn on the torch. Holding the torch a few inches away, repeatedly pass it over the surface of each custard. 
  • Let cool for a few minutes, serve, and enjoy! When you break the brûléed caramelized top with a spoon, it should make a satisfying “crack”.
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