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Creme Brulee

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One of Martha Stewart's favorites, creme brulee's seductive secret lies in the contrast between the brittle caramelized topping and the smooth, creamy custard beneath. French for "burnt cream," creme brulee is best served immediately after caramelizing its sweet, sugary surface.

  • Servings: 8

Source: The Martha Stewart Show, Episode 4087

Ingredients

For Custard

  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 7 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

For Topping

  • 3/4 cup sugar

Directions

  1. Prepare oven and baking dishes: Heat oven to 300 degrees. Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil. Place eight 5-ounce baking dishes in a large roasting pan.

  2. Gently heat cream: In a medium saucepan, combine cream and half the sugar (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons). Scrape vanilla bean seeds into pan, then add pod. Heat over medium just until mixture starts to bubble around the edge of the pan, 7 to 8 minutes (do not let boil).

  3. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks: In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with remaining sugar and the salt.

  4. Temper eggs: Use ladle to pour a small amount of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture, then whisk to combine. (This is called tempering and prevents the eggs from curdling.) Add two more ladles of cream mixture, one at a time, whisking to combine after each addition. Gradually whisk in remaining cream mixture. Strain through a fine sieve into a large liquid measuring cup (to remove the vanilla pod and any cooked bits of egg).

  5. Bake: Divide custard evenly among baking dishes. Place pan in oven. Add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake until custards are just set (they should tremble slightly in center when shaken), 30 to 40 minutes.

  6. Chill: Remove pan from oven. Use tongs to carefully remove dishes from hot-water bath and place on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Then, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours (or up to 3 days) before serving. The custard will finish setting in the refrigerator. If you like, transfer the custards to the freezer 15 minutes before serving to ensure they stay cold after being bruleed (this is especially important if using the broiler).

  7. Caramelize tops and serve: Sprinkle about 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar over each custard. Working with one at a time, pass the flame of the torch in a circular motion 1 to 2 inches above the surface of each custard until the sugar bubbles, turns amber, and forms a smooth surface. Serve immediately.

Reviews Add a comment

  • jesskallia
    17 AUG, 2017
    I don't know how this recipe got only 3 1/2 stars. This recipe is literally PERFECT. I am a novice baker with picky family and whenever I make this everyone goes crazy for it. I fell in love with crème brule when I had it at a restaurant, and this tastes exactly the same. It is amazing! You have to try it!
    Reply
  • pamela
    19 FEB, 2017
    Has anyone tried the recipe using vanilla extract and broiling the sugar topping? I would love to hear how the crème brulee turned out using the extract and oven broiler. Thank you in advance.
    Reply
  • kfdf@ptd.net
    23 DEC, 2016
    This recipe is awesome. Be sure to put it through a sieve. This is very important to make it smooth and creamy. PERFECT!
    Reply
  • tracylin2015ya
    29 NOV, 2016
    Hi, what brand of the baking pan used in the video?
    Reply
  • ellezara
    20 JUL, 2015
    i was nervous to try this recipe after reading other reviews, everyone made it seem like some complicated thing but it's very very simple. just get the cream mixture pretty hot (without boiling) and gradually add to the eggs, whisking a bunch between each addition so the egg doesn't cook. that's all there is to know the rest is a no-brainer. this was my first attempt at creme brulee and it was out of this world delicious...can't imagine anyone not loving it
    Reply
  • pussnboots
    28 MAY, 2015
    Like but...I too was afraid of ending up with a runny creme. This has happened to me before with a tarte au citron. Instead, I employed the stove top method followed by baking it au bain marie. Once I had mixed everything,I cooked it on low constantly mixing with a handmixer to keep the eggs from curdling. I heated it until it thickened and then poured it through a strainer. and blitzed it again, then into the oven for about 20 min. Consistency was Gr8. I used a torch for the top :)
    Reply
  • Barbara Colnar Morgen
    29 DEC, 2014
    to bboy7up: a few tips if you are consistently not getting it to gel: 1. let the cream sit for 15 minutes with a lid on top while you whisk your eggs, sugar and salt. 2. in your review, you state that you are adding the eggs one at a time to the hot creme -- it's the other way around! add the hot creme a little at a time to the egg/sugar/salt mixture. 3. it's OK to turn the oven up to 325 degrees and even to cook longer than 40 min... I let mine "accidentally" cook for 60 min with great results
    Reply
  • Barbara Colnar Morgen
    29 DEC, 2014
    best recipe out of 3 that I've tried. thanks, Martha!
    Reply
  • Joyce Feltz
    27 MAR, 2014
    I've always felt creme brulee is best served with the custard just bit below room temperature, and certainly not chilled. So I take the custard filled ramekins out of the fridge about 1/2 hour ahead of serving time. And I use superfine sugar for both the eggs and the topping. I think it caramelizes easier than regular granulated sugar. A few years ago I scored a creme brulee kit from Marshalls...$9.99 for the torch and four ramekins! I love your recipe, Martha!
    Reply
  • P-Rod
    2 APR, 2013
    Wonderful recipe! My suggestion is to create your own vanilla sugar (place used vanilla bean pods into a jar of sugar). For caramelizing try powdered fruit sugar again flavored with used vanilla bean pods spread evenly removing any excess, light spray of fine mist of water over top, then torch with some dark spots for flavor. Set in fridge to cool.
    Reply