Classic Crème Brûlée

This Le Cirque Crème Brûlée recipe was the first I ever made and no other version has ever surpassed it!

Classic Creme Brulee | a fabulous vanilla custard topped with a thin layer of brittle, caramelized sugar

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.

Classic Creme Brulee | a fabulous vanilla custard topped with a thin layer of brittle, caramelized sugar

The Options

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.

Classic Creme Brulee | a fabulous vanilla custard topped with a thin layer of brittle, caramelized sugar

Classic Crème Brûlée
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 9 servings
Ingredients
  • 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)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300º.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. I used shallow ramekins and baked for about 40 minutes.

Classic Creme Brulee | a fabulous vanilla custard topped with a thin layer of brittle, caramelized sugar

Comments

  1. That golden top is perfection, this looks like a classic for a reason!

  2. Lynn@Happier Than A Pig In Mud says:

    Very pretty and perfect for V-Day!
    PS-I made your fudge cake, totally amazing! Thanks:@)

  3. It’s certainly one of my fave desserts, Liz!

  4. Oh là là ! Crème brulé ! It’s sounds like heaven ! It’s Fred’s favourite dessert ! I’ve never made because I don’t have the broiler ! When I saw your crème brulée I think is time to make it !

  5. Oh la la Crème brulée ! It’s Fred’s favourite dessert ! I don’t have the bruleur to made them but when I see yours I think to myself it’s time to made them ! Looks great !

  6. It’s one my favorite desserts, too and cracking the top is the best part.

  7. Love creme brulee and your post reminds me that I haven’t made it in forever. I must remedy that immediately. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  8. I need to make this at home. It is one of the few desserts my husband and I can both agree on. Plus I do so want a little torch.

  9. Miss Messy says:

    Love love love creme brulee and can’t believe I’ve never made it. Think I will have to try this recipe!

  10. Your creme brûlée looks gorgeous, and that’s not an easy thing to do. High praise from Bill!

  11. Love a classic creme brulee. I have never made one before though. I love how simply elegant this is. No fuss, no special ingredients, perfect to make whenever.

    xoxo

  12. This looks absolutely perfect! I love that your husband will no longer order them out anymore 🙂

  13. Although I sm not much of a dessert person, this is by far my favourite dessert. You’ve inspired me to make them for dessert for my nephew and his GF on Saturday. I have the low bowls too which works so well. My Canadian Food Network chef suggests to dry the brown sugar overnight spread out in a shallow pan, I find it brûlées very quickly.

  14. Lizzy,
    This is such an elegant dessert. Love the new ramekins too.
    Annamaria
    PS: I got your weekly e-mail on Saturday.

  15. Your creme brulee are simply gorgeous! I need to invest in a little torch. I tried with the broiler, but wasn’t happy with the result. I love that delicate little crunch with the silky custard behind it. You’ve got me wanting one now! 🙂

  16. I can use my broiler instead of a kitchen torch to caramelize?! Why didn’t I think of that . . that is seriously why I have never attempted creme brulee! Because I don’t own a kitchen torch (even though I want one!) 🙂 Liz, this is gorgeous!!!

  17. Creme brulee is my favorite and I love that you made these in the oval ramekins. They look perfectly golden and gorgeous!

  18. Ah, Liz, perfection as always! I’ve missed reading about your food. Glad to be back!

  19. claudia lamascolo says:

    I have yet to make this yummy dessert love this!

  20. SUCH a perfect and gorgeous creme brulee! i registered for the oval ramekins and a small torch and I can’t wait!

  21. Oooooh Liz, how lovely. This is a dessert I’ve tasted often, but only made once. Bought myself a culinary blow torch a while back (from Aldi!), but have yet to use it. Love your recipe. xo

  22. This looks so delicious – I had no idea it was so easy……..I’m going to have to try it!

  23. This creme brûlée looks delicious, I enjoy the crack when you first spoon 😀

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

  24. I’ve had creme brulee on my mind for a while now. I take this as a sign that I should make soon!

  25. Yum!!

  26. I’ll have to make your Crème Brûlée ASAP! I love it so much! Nettie

  27. Dear Lizzy, Your creme brulee looks beautiful and elegant! I’m going to take Bill’s word for it…I know my family would love them. xoxo, Catherine

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