Posted by: Joan Spiller | June 5, 2011

Creme Brulee – Recipe

Creme Brulee seems to be one of *those* desserts. A bit scary (and they can be too – cos if you get it wrong they’re too runny or the topping doesn’t caramelise and it’s just sweet liquidy custard with brown bits on top) but really it’s SO simple.

And they’re so elegant, so don’t be scared, try it – everyone will think yer frightfully clever. And best yet – they can be mostly made ahead of time, so are ideal for entertaining.

Get your friends to do the toppings, while you sit back and bask in the glory of being super-host! They’re also good to make if you’ve been baking anything requiring lots of egg whites, cos they will use up the yolks ..

To make 6, you will need:

4c cream

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1c vanilla sugar, divided

6 large egg yolks

8c hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Put the cream, vanilla bean and its seeds into a medium sized pot over medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Remove the vanilla bean and reserve for another use. (I’d put this in a large container of white sugar – makes for heavenly scented sugar to use in other baking.)

In a large bowl, whisk together 1/2c 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 mixture into 6 (7 to 8-ounce) ramekins.

Place the ramekins into a large cake tin or roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes and bake just until the creme brulee is set, but still trembling in the centre, approximately 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days) – be sure there’s nothing smelly in the fridge tho!

Remove from the refrigerator 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 blow torch (this is the fun part!) melt the sugar to form a crispy topping..

Allow the brulee to sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Note: You can use the grill to do the caramel topping but it’s just not as much fun!



  1. My mind has been whirling about this. I love the idea of coming up with new ideas; the act of creating. I’m loving adding lavender to the sugar. Did you know that sugar is supposedly a good exfoliant for your skin? I’m wondering about adding the lavender to it and adding the element of aroma therapy along with the soothing elements of the lavender. hmmm.
    Also, how about emptying tea bags (black tea or green tea) and adding the lavender, or rose hips even and then seeping the tea the old fashioned way. Oh, I love it. Fun activities this summer i see.
    If you come up with other ideas for fresh herbs let me know. Or anything for that matter.


    • oooh I didn’t know about the exfoliant but can imagine it would be! So lavender added would be fabulous.. The old classic “tie a bunch in the closet” thing is the standby use for it, here in NZ of course .. dunno about the tea bags, I am not a tea fan (coffee beans – now we’re talking hahah) Hmm what else can be done .. I freeze rosemary to use in stocks, it works well .. or rather, I used to do this before starting to grow it myself now I don’t need to .. rosemary adds amazing depth to a vege stock!


  2. I am so trying this as soon as possible. You have me thinking about other things I can use to “flavor” my sugar. I’m thinking something like rosemary for tea; I don’t know what else, but my wheels are turning. Thanks…got any ideas?


    • hmm .. good thinking! What about lavender – depending on where you are, you may or may not grow this stuff? It’s surprisingly nice in ice cream .. Or maybe we take it further and put a sprig of thyme into our rice? HEY have you started a whole new trend? What else could we flavour in this way?


  3. I have to say that I’ve never heard of vanilla sugar. Sounds interesting. I’ll have to try it. Can you simply put the vanilla bean in the sugar without boiling it?


    • Oh yes, but you get double the use out of the pod if you do it this way. The vanilla sugar thing is to make use of a pod that’s had the seeds scraped and used in something else, if that makes sense? It has plenty of fragrance left and ohh the sugar, you will feel so indulged every time you use it 😉


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