Coffee Creme Brulee

Photo: Charles Schiller

These smooth and creamy custards are infused with coffee and topped with satisfyingly-sweet candy lids.


  • 1 quart heavy cream

  • 1 ½ cups dark Italian-roast coffee beans

  • 10 large egg yolks

  • cup granulated sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • Boiling water, for roasting pan

  • 5 tablespoons superfine sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Bring cream and coffee beans to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, and reduce heat to low; cook at a bare simmer 30 minutes. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a medium bowl (or use a slotted spoon to remove beans); discard beans.

  2. Put yolks, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl; whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture is pale and thick. Gradually add cream in a slow, steady stream, whisking until combined. Pour steeping the coffee beans whisking the custard adding the layer of sugar through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a large glass measuring cup or pitcher; skim any foam or bubbles from surface.

  3. Divide custard among molds, filling them almost to the top. Place molds in a roasting pan; put pan on oven rack, and pour boiling water around molds to reach halfway up sides. Bake until custards are set around the edges but still loose in the centers, about 30 minutes.

  4. Let molds cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from water bath. Cover each with plastic wrap, pressing onto surface; refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

  5. If using a torch to caramelize custards, just before serving use a fine sieve to sift 1 tablespoon superfine sugar over each; wipe sugar from edges. Hold torch at a 90-degree angle, 3 to 4 inches from the surface of each custard, and use a steady sweeping motion to caramelize the tops until golden brown.

  6. If you don't have a torch, freeze custards 20 minutes before topping with sugar. Preheat broiler, and place molds on a rimmed baking sheet; surround with ice cubes. Broil, rotating sheet once, until tops are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. If molds become warm, refrigerate custards for a few minutes before serving.

Cook's Notes

Wide and shallow 9-ounce molds are perfect for creme brulee because they provide ample surface area, ensuring a bit of crunchy topping in every bite (you'll need five of them for this recipe). Ten half-cup ramekins can be used instead; reduce sugar topping for each custard to 1 1/2 teaspoons, and add 10 minutes to the baking time, since the custards will be deeper.

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