The Very Best Vanilla Creme Brûlée Recipe
Creamy and smooth, this French classic dessert is made with the simplest of ingredients. The Very Best Vanilla Creme Brûlée recipe is easy to make with cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla….and the burnt sugar topping is so fun to make. This is the dessert you’ll want to celebrate all of life’s little moments.
There’s something so satisfying about taking the first crack at the top of Creme Brûlée. It’s a little therapeutic….like any bit of pent up aggression can be spent with one little whack of the spoon. I may be exaggerating a little bit but don’t test me if we’re ever out to dinner together and you try to take the first crack. I’ll smack that spoon out of your hand so fast you won’t know what hit it. 🙂 Just kidding, kinda. But….I do LOVE my creme brûlée. So much that I tried to make it for my husband when we were dating years ago…and I’m pretty sure I keep telling the same story over and over again but long story short….I didn’t bake it long enough. And I didn’t make it in advance so it never really had time to set up. So….basically, we were eating melted vanilla ice cream for dessert which isn’t such a bad thing. But the brûlée part of the dessert never came to be because the sugar just kept sinking to the bottom. There was nothing to brûlée, really.
So….many years later (like just this past week) I finally decided to make the basic French classic once again. And I learned a few things….again so you can make it like a pro without making the same mistakes I made way back then….and even just last week. The Very Best Vanilla Creme Brûlée recipe is just that….the very best. And I say that because it’s creamy and light, sweet but not overly so, simple to prepare and, dare I say, fun to make. It’s also the most impressive dessert to serve for every occasion because it just seems so fancy….when it’s really not at all. Just a basic baked custard with a burnt sugar top. So simple….but so elegant.
I made a Pumpkin Spice Creme Brûlée a couple years ago which I love just as much….but I still would choose the classic Vanilla Creme Brûlée recipe any day of the week. Here’s what I learned in all the years of attempting to make this really easy and the very best I can.
- Plan ahead….the Very Best Creme Brûlée recipe is best if made in advance. At least a day is optimal. This gives the custard time to chill and set up in the fridge.
- Be mindful of the size of your ramekins….I used 6 6-ounce ramekins with a baking time of approximately 50 minutes until they seemed set up. If you go bigger they will take longer to cook. So, if your custard is about 1 inch deep….baking time will be approximately 30 minutes…..2 inches deep and you’re looking at about approximately 50-60 minutes of baking time. Low and slow is the only way to go.
- Don’t go too heavy handed when sprinkling the top with sugar for the brûlée step. And be sure to coat evenly for best results. You don’t want to leave the torch in one spot too long because it will begin to cook the custard beneath the sugar crust…and that’s no good.
Ok, so you got the main points to get you started. One last thing…I used a kitchen torch because I think they’re really cool and a ton of fun. (I shared some of the fun on my Instagram stories!)If you don’t have a kitchen torch, that’s totally fine. You can finish off your Vanilla Creme Brûlée using your oven’s broiler with stellar results. But if you can swing a kitchen torch get one because they’re great for all kinds of things…..like toasting marshmallows in the middle of winter. And because playing with fire when you’re a grown up is kinda really fun. 🙂
If you’re feeling really adventurous and maybe have some leftover Vanilla Creme Brûlée sitting around after your celebration, you should totally make these easy Creme Brûlée Chocolate Eggs (Easter is coming!) And if you’re looking for a truly decadent vanilla dessert that’s more ready when you are, you should totally stock your freezer with this homemade Vanilla Ice Cream. It’s crazy insanely addicting. Rich, creamy and perfect….just like the Very Best Vanilla Creme Brûlée recipe.
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 2 vanilla beans split lengthwise (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 10 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar granulated sugar can be used here but may increase cooking time
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a large saucepan, whisk together the cream, vanilla and 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over low heat (cream will begin to steam) then remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.
Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla beans and stir into the cream. Rinse the empty beans and reserve for another use.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining granulated sugar until pale and frothy. While whisking, ladle 1/4 cup of the cream mixture into the eggs until combined. Slowly add another 1/4 cup of the cream to the egg mixture to combine. (This step tempers the eggs and keeps them from scrambling when you mix them into the cream.)
Slowly whisk the egg mixture into the cream mixture until thoroughly combined.
Arrange 6 6-ounce ramekins on a baking sheet or roasting pan. Divide the cream mixture evenly among the ramekins and place the baking sheet on the oven rack.
Fill the roasting pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins (BE SURE NOT to splash any water into the ramekins....POUR SLOWLY.)
Bake the custards for 50 minutes or until just set. (They will still be a little jiggly in the center...like a cheesecake)
Cool the custards to room temperature then refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Before serving, sprinkle the custard with the superfine sugar and melt the sugar with a kitchen torch until caramelized. Alternatively, you can melt the sugar by placing the custard under the broiler until caramelized.
Top with fruit, if desired. Serve immediately.
Custards can be made up to 48 hours in advance and stored in the refrigerator wrapped lightly with plastic wrap.