This Le Cirque Crème Brûlée recipe was the first I ever made and no other version has ever surpassed it!
Le Cirque’s Legendary Crème Brûlée Recipe
Martha Stewart featured this recipe one of her shows nearly 20 years ago. I had never even tasted crème brûlée, but knowing Bill was a fan of custard desserts, I gave it a go. I used my broiler to brulee the topping which transformed this vanilla custard into an extraordinary after dinner treat. Cracking your spoon through the hardened sugar crust into the silky smooth custard reveals the two quintessential elements which made this dessert so famous. Since I started making these at home, Bill will not order them from a restaurant menu. According to him, they always fall short.
I finally purchased some flat oval ramekins, but the rounder, deeper version works fine, too. You’ll just have to add more baking time to ensure the custard is set. There will be a slight jiggle in the middle but set around the perimeter when they are fully baked. When it comes to caramelizing your sugar topping, you have options there as well. I use turbinado, or sugar in the raw, but you can also use brown sugar or granulated sugar. Some folks add a thin layer, torch and then repeat. Generally, I just go for it once. You can use your broiler, just watch carefully and remove when the sugar topping starts bubbling. I use a mini-torch, but you can also use a larger, welding torch if you’re comfortable with using one. Make sure to chill your creme brulees before torching so the custard doesn’t totally liquefy from the heat. Not that anyone has ever complained when that’s happened around here! I’ve also updated this recipe after reading Jenni Field’s post on salting desserts. She’s an accomplished pastry chef and knows her stuff; just a pinch of salt will make a world of difference to taste of the vanilla bean custard. If you have never made crème brûlée before, consider it for a Valentine’s Day dessert for the one (or ones) you love.
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, slit in half lengthwise and seeds scraped
- ¾ cup sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 7 large egg yolks
- Turbinado sugar (sugar in the raw)
- Preheat oven to 300º.
- In a saucepan, heat cream, vanilla pod, vanilla seeds, sugar, and salt over medium heat, stirring occasionally, till bubbles form around perimeter. Do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat.
- Whisk eggs in large glass measuring cup (or bowl). Temper yolks by adding a small amount of hot cream to the yolks while whisking. Repeat a few more times, making sure to add the cream mixture very slowly and to keep whisking so yolks do not cook. Pour tempered yolks back into pan and whisk till smooth. Strain the mixture into large measuring cup (you may reuse the cup utilized for tempering) to remove vanilla pod, seeds and any bits of cooked yolk.
- Place nine 8 ounce ramekins in roasting pan. Fill the ramekins to the top with custard. Carefully place pan in the oven, and pour enough hot water in roasting pan to come halfway up ramekins. Bake until custard is set and jiggles slightly when shaken, about 50 minutes.
- Remove from water bath and let cool a half hour or so. Chill for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Before serving, sprinkle with turbinado sugar and broil (approximately 4 inches from element) till sugar caramelizes....watch carefully as this takes less than a minute. You may also use a kitchen torch to caramelize. Place on small plate to serve.
- I used shallow ramekins and baked for about 40 minutes.