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!