The perfect creme brulee

For a very long time now I’ve been on a mission to make the perfect creme brulee. Keren and I shared a serving of this iconic treat at a Salon de Thea on one of our edible adventures. It was (as I told Tony later) like eating pleasure itself. I made an inward resolution to master the art of Creme Brulee. With such a short and humble list of ingredients (eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla), how hard could it be?

Research uncovered a minefield of issues; cream, double cream, milk, anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes in the oven, some calling for a water bath and others not. Still more omit the baking step completely, thickening the custard on the stove. Nigella says it best; “If it starts to split, plunge the saucepan in a sink of cold water and whisk like crazy”. Sans blowtorch, a minute or two under a hot grill is the proffered suggestion for burning the sugar, though some have you make a separate caramel and pour it on.

My creme brulee in Paris had a texture somewhere between yoghurt and Nutella; a thick, delectable smoothness. In pursuit of this I’ve made recipes by Julia Childs, Delia Smith, various food bloggers and Clotilde herself. All have been delicious but never produced the texture I coveted.

But this time I succeeded. I made the perfect creme brulee. I abandoned the recipes and followed my heart. I took the bold step of withholding the cream from the custard and adding it (whipped) at the end. Tony’s new Hot Devil blowtorch added the final touch. What resulted was a marriage of texture and taste that brought on a lengthy period of self-congratulation. Fortunately, Angie and Steve did not seem to mind.

Perfect Creme Brulee

5 egg yolks
80g sugar
200ml milk
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
400ml cream (I used pure cream by Barambah Organics, the most incredible cream ever tasted)
Demerara sugar

Warm the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and pod. Remove from the heat before it boils and allow to cool a little. Whisk the eggs and sugar together until thick and pale, or as Julia says “until it forms the ribbon”. Remove the pod and slowly whisk in the warm milk. Pour the custard into a saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring constantly. Once thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, set aside to cool completely and then chill in the fridge. Beat the cream until it’s soft enough to dollop, but not stiff. When the custard is chilled, fold in the cream. The trick is to get a perfect ratio of custard to cream, largely a matter of personal taste though I have given you roughly 50/50. Spoon the mixture into your ramekins and chill until ready to serve. The blow torching should be done well in advance so the caramel has time to harden. However, it becomes a little crowd pleaser to do it with friends. We made Angie and Steve do theirs when they arrived, more fun that way.

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3 Responses to “The perfect creme brulee”


  1. 1 Jo July 29, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I’m so impressed Ally! I got a creme brulee torch for my birthday and have had an attempt at creme brulee, but it wasn’t quite right. I can’t wait to have a go at your recipe. It sounds great! BTW I agree with your description of creme brulee – eating pleasure itself! How did your caramelised, crunchy top work out? And how thick a coating of demerara sugar did you put on top? Can’t wait to hang out in August. 🙂 xo

  2. 2 Kim July 30, 2012 at 2:31 am

    You make me smile, Ally 🙂 My housemates had a recent foray into the world of creme brulee – mostly for the excuse of using a recent gift of a chef’s torch – with mxed results! I’ll have to pass on your perfect recipe to them … yum!

  3. 3 Gerri Frederiksen July 30, 2012 at 7:25 am

    One of my my most favourite desserts..pure decadent indulgence!
    My mouth is watering!!
    Love Gerri..xx


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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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