Of all the old-school restaurant desserts, creme brulee has got to be my fave. Not only is there the crazy fun fire element, but there is also an ENDLESS opportunity to experiment with flavors. Taking note of big trends surrounding matcha and coffee-flavored foods, I had to test this out and finally learn what exactly goes into making a romantic restaurant classic. Grab a kitchen torch (yes seriously, do it) and follow along to make your own caramelized creations for your Valentine, Galentine, mom, grandma, whoever you want to share them with!
- 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon powdered flavoring of your choice (we used instant coffee, matcha tea powder, cocoa powder)
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar (+ 2 Tablespoons extra per ramekin for topping)
- pinch of salt
- medium saucepan
- mixing bowls
- small ramekins or creme brulee dishes
- kitchen torch
- deep baking pans
- tongs (preferably silicon-coated)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Heat heavy cream in a saucepan until just simmering, slowly stirring so that it doesn’t burn.
3. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and the powdered flavoring of your choice, cover with a plate and let sit for 10 minutes.
4. Separate your egg yolks from the whites and lightly whisk egg yolks, salt and ¼ cup of sugar in a mixing bowl until just combined.
5. Slowly whisk ½ cup of the flavored cream into the egg mixture for about 30 seconds to temper the yolks, and then add the rest of the cream and continue stirring until combined but not frothy.
6. Pour the cream and egg mixture into four ramekins. Then place the filled ramekins into a deep baking pan and fill the bottom of the pan with boiling water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
7. Lay a sheet of foil over the top of the pan and carefully place in center rack of oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until custards jiggle like jello and are no longer liquid.
8. Carefully remove ramekins from water bath using tongs with a good grip on them (silicon-coated ones work best, or you can wrap rubber bands around regular tongs to get a better grip) and set aside to cool on the counter for 30 minutes.
9. Cover each ramekin in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you are making a day ahead.
10. Remove plastic wrap from cooled custards and sprinkle 1 teaspoon of sugar onto the surface to cover it in a thin layer.
11. Torch the sugar surface until it melts and caramelizes, forming a golden brown sugar crust on the entire surface.
12. Top with any additional garnishes and serve.
First off, preheat your oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, heat heavy cream in a saucepan, uncovered, until just simmering (you’ll see steam coming up from the pan and a few small bubbles forming). Stir slowly and often so that it doesn’t burn.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla and the powdered flavoring of your choice, cover with a plate and let cool for 10 minutes.
Separate your egg yolks from the whites and reserve just the yolks for this recipe (real talk: I made myself a big ol’ egg white omelette while those creme brulees were in the oven).
Lightly whisk the egg yolks, salt and ¼ cup of sugar in a mixing bowl until just combined.
Slowly whisk just ½ cup of the flavored cream into the egg mixture for about 30 seconds to temper the yolks (read: Don’t overwhelm them with heat and accidentally cook them!), and then add the rest of the cream and continue stirring until evenly combined but not frothy.
Place your ramekins into deep baking dishes and then pour the cream and egg mixture into four ramekins. You can see here that we tested out four different flavor combos and mixed them up separately before pouring into ramekins.
Fill the bottom of the pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. You don’t want water to get in the ramekins, but having the water in the pan does help to cook them evenly. Lay a sheet of foil over the top of each pan and carefully place in the center rack of the oven, making sure to keep them level and not let the hot water slosh around. Bake for 40-50 minutes at 300 degrees Fahrenheit until custards jiggle like jello and are no longer liquid.
IRL fail: We had a fallen soldier in this baking stage, due to hot water getting into one ramekin and causing it not to solidify properly, so seriously, take your time! Get out the good oven mitts!! We will miss you, chocolate flavored creme brulee.
Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath using tongs with a good grip on them (silicon-coated ones work best, or you can wrap rubber bands around regular tongs to get a better grip), and set aside to cool on the counter for 30min.
IMPORTANT STEP: LET ‘EM CHILL. Cover each ramekin in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight if you are making a day ahead.
When they are fully cooled and you are just about ready to serve, remove the plastic wrap from the cooled custards and sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar onto the surface, tapping it to cover the whole surface in a thin layer.
Here comes the reeaaally fun part!! Grab a kitchen torch and evenly heat the sprinkled sugar until it melts, bubbles and forms a golden brown sugar crust.
Let the freshly flamed sugar cool down and harden for a couple of minutes, top with any additional garnishes and serve! We left one of these guys in classic vanilla to get the traditional creme brulee experience. Grab a spoon and crack on!
Next up was my unexpected fave flavor, matcha green tea! Throw a few coconut chips on that bad boy and enjoy the velvety green tea goodness.
True Story: I ONLY buy coffee ice cream. So I obviously had to make a coffee flavored version, topped with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans. This one was a CLOSE second to matcha in my book, but the most popular among my kitchen-hovering coworkers.
OMGUH. I don’t care who you’re inviting over, these are a SERIOUS crowd pleaser, as well as a fun chemistry experiment. It’s not as scary as it looks, so definitely give it a try!