Rich, Elegant Crème Brulée

Crème brulée, French for burnt cream, is a rich, creamy custard topped with a thin layer of hard, caramelized sugar.  Crème brulée is one of those perfect desserts that seems complicated, and yet mastering this simple recipe will open the door to endless possibilities of flavors.

Infuse the cream with chocolate, liqueurs, fruits, or one of my favorites, rose.  One of the best features of making crème brulée is that just before serving you get to use a blow torch! Yes, a blow torch.  I know that a small kitchen torch is available at most retailers that sell kitchen ware, but nothing works as well as the torch right out of the hardware store or garage.  True culinary magic occurs when the first ‘crack’ of the caramelized layer makes that magical sound, your family and friends will be impressed with your culinary and torch skills.  Enjoy!

Crème Brulée

2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
5 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, split
additional sugar for sprinkling

Prepare the oven.

Place rack in the center.

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Place six 3/4-cup ramekins in rectangular pan, like a Pyrex casserole or lasagna pan.

Mix cream and sugar in heavy medium saucepan.

Using small sharp knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean. Add seeds and bean to saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a slight simmer.

Remove vanilla bean.

Whisk yolks in medium bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in hot cream mixture just to blend. Return custard to pan; divide among ramekins. Pour enough hot water into pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.

Carefully transfer pans to oven.

Bake custards until almost set in center when pans are gently shaken, about 35 minutes. Remove ramekins from pan. Chill at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.

Now for the fun stuff!

Just before serving, sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar evenly over each custard. Working with one custard at a time, hold blowtorch so that flame is 2 inches above surface. Direct flame so that sugar melts and browns.


Andrea Charroin was a trained baker and pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding nine years ago. After falling in love with Redding’s downtown, Andrea and husband Westley opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie, across from the Cascade Theatre. For the three years Rene-Joule was in business, it was renowned for making everything from scratch, using the best ingredients and keeping with a seasonal menu. To this day, Andrea is asked about her Marathon Bars, Orange Twists and sourdough bread.

Copyright 2008 Andrea R. Charroin. Visit my blog at

Andrea Charroin
Andrea Charroin is a trained baker and pastry chef. She worked in San Francisco before she, her husband, Westley, and their two sons moved to Redding. They fell in love with Redding’s downtown and opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie.
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2 Responses

  1. Avatar Canda says:

    Oh darn, I'm sorry to hear this scrumptious dessert is so easy to make. Now I'm in real trouble. It's my favorite dessert in the world! I'll be looking for will power from now on. Thanks, Andrea. 🙂

  2. Avatar Susan says:

    Thanks for sharing your recipe & technique. I had home-prepared creme brulee at a friend's house recently, and when the torching was done, the custard underneath was warm & runny instead of chilled & firm, like it usually is at a restaurant. How does the home cook avoid this?