If you ever saw the French movie Amélie, you probably fell a little in love with baking crème brûlée and the magical sound of a spoon cracking the crisp, caramelized top and sinking into the vanilla-scented custard below.
Maybe you've ordered crème brûlée at a restaurant but never tried making it at home. Recipes often tell you to use a kitchen blowtorch to melt the sugar topping into crunchy perfection. And how many of us own a kitchen blowtorch? (If you do: We're impressed!)
The good news is that you don't need a torch, or any other special equipment, to make restaurant-quality crème brûlée. You don't need a degree in pastry arts either. All you need are 10 minutes of prep time and a few ramekins. You go this.
Yield: Makes 4 (8-ounce) ramekin servings
- 5 large egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
Position a rack in the middle position of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325 F. Have your ramekins and a large casserole pan off to the side, at the ready.
2. Whisk and Divvy Up
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and ½ cup sugar. Whisk vigorously until the mixture becomes creamy, cohesive and lemony in color. Add the cream, vanilla and salt. Whisk until smooth and combined.
Carefully divide the mixture between your four ramekins. It should fill them about ⅔ to ¾ full. If your ramekins have bubbles on the sides, try your best to pop them with the side of a spoon.
3. Submerge the Ramekins
Pour about ⅓ inch of water in your baking pan. Place the ramekins in the water, so the sides are submerged. The water should come about halfway up the ramekins. If the water level is too low, gently pour more water in the side of the pan, being careful not to slosh water into the ramekins.
Place the baking pan with the ramekins in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, checking every 5 minutes after the 40-minute mark. The cook time can vary depending on the thickness of your ramekins. You're looking for the custard to be mostly "set" with a little jiggle in the middle.
Remove the pan from the oven, then gently remove the ramekins from the hot water by lifting them out with a spatula. Set on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes, then transfer to the refrigerator to cool for about an hour. You want the custard to be completely set before moving forward.
Near the end of your cooling time, set the oven to broil. Place the ramekins on a baking dish (no need for a water bath this time). Make sure that the tops are free of condensation (beads of moisture); if needed, gently blot with a clean paper towel. Sprinkle the remaining sugar on top.
Place the baking pan under the broiler for 3 to 5 minutes, monitoring closely, until the sugar has melted into a crispy, browned crust.
Now grab your spoon and get cracking!