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YOU NEED TO KNOW: How to Make Custard (and Classic Creme Brûlée!)

Cooking Tutorial: Learn How to Make Custard and Homemade Creme Brûlée! This recipe instructional by Wood and Spoon gives instruction on the different types of custards, how to make them, and a simple, straight-forward recipes for vanilla bean creme brûlée. This elegant dessert is great for dinner parties and can be semi-made-ahead. Read all about this classic French dessert on thewoodandspoon.com

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This classic creme brûlée is a creamy custard with a crunchy, bruleed top!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for topping the custards 

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Pour the heavy cream into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Split the vanilla bean down the middle, using a paring knife to carefully scrape the insides into the cream. Add the empty bean shell as well. Place the saucepan over medium low heat and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low once simmering and simmer, whisking regularly, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Allow the mixture to cool an additional 10 minutes while you prep the remaining ingredients.
  3. Fill a tea kettle with water and bring to a bowl. Set an 8 or 9” baking dish off to the side. These will be used for your water bath.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk to combine the salt, yolks, and 1/3 cup sugar. Once the cream has cooled  slightly, remove the vanilla bean pod and use a heat-safe measuring cup to pour in just a bit of the heated cream into the yolk mixture, stirring all the while. Note: it’s important to not add too much cream too fast- the heat from the cream could cook and curdle the eggs. Scoop out some more cream and quickly whisk that into the eggs as well. Return all the egg/cream mixture back to the saucepan and whisk to combine. 
  5. Strain the mixture into 4- 6 ounce ramekins. Place them into the baking dish and carefully pour the boiling water from the tea kettle into the pan, creating a “bath” for the ramekins to sit in. The water should reach halfway up the ramekins. Carefully place the baking dish into the oven and bake the custards about 40 minutes or until it jiggles slightly in the center when you gently shake them. Do not allow them to overbake- this could cause the custard to curdle. Once finished, cool slightly prior to chilling, covered, in the fridge about 4-6 hours.
  6. When ready to enjoy, remove the custards from the fridge. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon sugar on top of each custard. Use a kitchen torch or a preheated broiler to cook the top of the sugar until golden. When using the torch, hold the flame about 5” above the ramekins. Slowly cook the sugar, passing the flame over the custard, until golden. For the broiler, simply place the ramekins on a baking pan and broil on the top shelf of the oven until golden, about 2 minutes. Alllow to cool 1-2 minutes before enjoying.