Crème brûlée is one of my most favorite desserts. It’s a fancy restaurant standby because they (or you) can make the custard hours or even several days in advance, then brûlée it to order. Unfortunately, some restaurants botch their crème brûlées or worse, fake them with a weird pudding mix. Fortunately, I’ve discovered Alton Brown’s recipe which turns out perfect, every time.
*Naptime tip: This is a make ahead dessert! So make the custards during an early nap and they’ll be chilled and ready to torch by dinner time.
P.S. Skip the wimpy kitchen torches and buy a REAL propane torch from the hardware store. They’re not too pricy and last 10x longer!
A very slightly edited version of Alton Brown’s crème brûlée
Perfect crème brûlée
Yields 6 servings
1 quart heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1/2 cup for topping
6 large egg yolks
2 quarts hot water
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the cream, vanilla bean and its pulp into a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean.
While cream is steeping, whisk together 1/2 cup sugar and the egg yolks in a medium bowl until well blended and it just starts to lighten in color. Add the cream a little at a time, stirring continually. Pour the liquid into six 8-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large cake pan or roasting pan. Place pan in oven and pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake just until the creme brulee is just set, but still trembling in the center, approximately 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
When ready to serve, remove the crème brûlée from the refrigerator. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup sugar equally among the 6 dishes and shake to disperse evenly on top. Using a torch, melt the sugar to form a crispy top. Allow the top to cool for a minute or two. Serve with fresh berries. Enjoy!