Gluten Free, Vegetarian

Caramel Crème Brûlée

3 comments

I made my first ever classic crème brûlée about a year ago for a dinner party with neighbors. It was such a success that crème brûlée is now my favorite go-to dessert for group gatherings. It’s creamy and sweet underneath a delightful torched sugar top…such an entertaining dessert to make, serve, and eat!

Unfortunately, with the current “stay home” guidelines thanks to COVID-19, gatherings with family and friends aren’t really happening these days. So I figured now is as good a time as any to tweak the classic recipe and transform it into something new. And what better way to do this than to add caramel, just in time for National Caramel Day (April 5th – my dog’s birthday!).

Homemade vs store-bought caramel

So confession… I had every intention of developing a caramel crème brûlée recipe that used caramel bought from the store. If you’ve read my About Me page, you know that I’m all about the easy recipes. And what’s easier than using cheaply and easily available pre-made ingredients from the store?

Well… When I made the grocery list and sent my husband along his merry way to “bring home the bacon,” guess what I forgot to include? THE CARAMEL! And with the current ongoing pandemic, I certainly wasn’t going to send him back out after he got home just for caramel. So to the internet I went to research how to make caramel from scratch!

Tips for making caramel from scratch

After a few tries and leveraging a few tips from other food bloggers out there (thank you to my fellow bloggers!), I became pretty confident in my ability to make caramel at home. And after testing and finalizing this recipe, I’m pretty certain that THIS is actually the easier way to make caramel crème brûlée. Easy, because this recipe uses minimal dishes from start to finish, making clean-up super easy!

One of the best tips I learned (and validated through a few of my own trials and errors) is to use a stainless steel saucepan. I used my 2.5 Quart Simply Calphalon with pour spouts, and it worked perfectly! Especially when it came time to temper the egg and hot cream mixture, it was nice to have the pour spouts on the pot so I could easily and cleanly pour the cream directly from the pot to the eggs.

Another great tip I learned is to swirl the sugar as it cooks into caramel instead of using a spoon or spatula to stir. This ensures the sugar cooks consistently and evenly throughout. It also supports the “easy” theme of this recipe in that no extra utensils need to be dirtied for this step!

Tips for making crème brûlée

One of the hardest things about making this dessert for me was simply getting over the fear of screwing it up. Honestly, all you have to do to be successful is take your time (don’t rush!). Crème brûlée is actually a pretty simple dessert to make that more than pays-off in the end. It is one of the most delicate and decadent desserts in my arsenal, and I love it!

The trickiest step of preparing this dessert is tempering the egg yolk with the hot cream mixture. But really, it’s not that difficult as long as you keep your patience throughout the process. Ultimately, it takes less than 5 minutes to do it right. As long as you can avoid having a heavy-hand as your pour the cream into the egg, you’ll be golden (just like your final mixture!).

Another thing I do is use a large measuring cup with a pour spout instead of a bowl to mix the egg and hot cream mixture. I love my 4-cup Anchor Hocking Fire-King glass measuring cup for just this purpose. Not only will this help keep you honest as you slowly pour the cream into the egg; it also, yet again, supports the “easy” theme of this recipe and reduces the amount of dirty dishes to clean in the end.

Check out the recipe below and don’t forget to rate it!

Caramel Crème Brûlée

5 from 2 votes
Recipe by Jenn Cook
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

30

minutes
Cooking time

40

minutes
Total time

1

hour 

10

minutes

This delicate and decadent dessert is sure to please at your next friends and family gathering. It’s creamy and sweet underneath a delightful torched sugar top…such an entertaining dessert to make, serve, and eat!

Ingredients

  • For Caramel
  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • For Crème Brûlée (to bake)
  • 2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 4 large egg yolks

  • 2 tbsp sugar

  • For Crème Brûlée (to torch)
  • 2 tsp sugar (per ramekin)

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 325°F. Place four (4) ramekins in a baking tray with high sides and set aside for later.
  • Pre-heat a stainless steel saucepan (preferably with a pour spout) on low heat until warmed. Add the water and sugar to make the caramel. Cook on lowest heat setting about 15 minutes, swirling the mixture every 1-2 minutes, until the caramel develops an amber color. Be careful not to burn the caramel.caramel cooking on the stovetop (not burnt) in a stainless steel saucepan with pour spouts on lowest heat setting
  • Carefully but quickly add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt to the pot and scrape the caramel off the bottom. The caramel will immediately start to harden when you pour the colder ingredients on top. Continue to cook on lowest heat setting about 5 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent the caramel from settling and burning on the bottom of the pot, until the caramel is fully dissolved into the cream mixture and it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside for later.caramel, heavy cream, vanilla extract, and salt cooking on the stove-top in a stainless steel saucepan with pour spouts on lowest heat setting
  • In a large bowl or measuring cup (preferably with a pour spout), thoroughly combine the egg yolks and sugar for the crème brûlée bake. Once combined, immediately begin tempering the egg with the cream mixture by slowly adding the cream to the egg (about 1/4 cup at a time), mixing constantly and thoroughly each time before adding more cream, until fully combined. Take your time with this step. You can never combine too slowly, but you can combine too quickly, and if you do combine too quickly, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your crème brûlée!
  • Using a clean pot, bring a few cups of water to just boiling and immediately remove from heat and set aside for later.
  • Gently divide the crème brûlée bake between the four (4) ramekins. If you still have a significant amount of excess bubbles sitting on top of the crème brûlée bake, you can gently skim the top with a spoon to remove the majority before pouring into the ramekins, though this is purely for looks only. Carefully pour the hot (not boiling) water into the baking tray to create a water bath that raises about halfway up the ramekins.caramel creme brulee prepped and divided between 4 ramekins in a water bath ready to go into oven for baking
  • Bake at 325°F for about 38-40 minutes. When properly baked, your crème brûlée will have a uniform “bounce” from center to edge when gently touched in the center. If the center still seems under-cooked, let it bake another minute or two before removing to cool.
  • Carefully remove the baking tray from the oven and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes. Once the ramekins are cool enough to handle, remove from the water bath and let cool on a cookie rack for another 20-25 minutes. Then cover with saran wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.
  • When ready to serve, evenly sprinkle a thin layer of extra sugar on top and use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar until it create a hardened light brown surface on top. Enjoy!

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Use a stainless steel saucepan with pour spouts to make the caramel and cream mixture.
  • Use a large measuring cup with pour spout to temper the eggs with the caramel cream mixture.
  • Remember, patience is key when making crème brûlée. It will be well worth the effort!

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3 Comments

  1. Yum! I love creme brûlée and yours looks amazing. If only I could figure out how to make an eggless version!

  2. I have had the pleasure of being able to enjoy Crème Brûlée as prepared by Jenn for one of our family gatherings. If you are a cook, you need to make this for your family. If you do not cook – you need to find one to prepare it for you. Jenn’s Crème Brûlée is beyond anything you would order at the fanciest of restaurants.

    • Jenn Cook

      Thank you so much!! 🙂 I love making this dessert and LOVE that everyone loves it as much as I do! <3 Happy to make it anytime!

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