Creme Brulee is a classic French dessert that can be found in casual cafes and Michelin restaurants, alike. Learn why it's one of the world's favorite desserts.
So, you’re here because you don’t know what creme brulee is, right? Well, that’s a little sad because you’ve been missing out.
Not only is creme brulee delicious with its contradictory crispy crust and gooey cream, but it also has a pretty interesting history with people fighting over who dun it first.
Lucky for you, we are here to help you feel more cultured by teaching you all/mostly about this tasty dish. Continue reading only if you want to change your life and expand your waistline.
Creme Brulee History
The first recipe for this creamy delight is from a cookbook from the late 1600s, Cuisinier royal et bourgeois. After 1740, however, the recipe fell off the face of the earth as far as French cookbooks were concerned, never to be seen again….well at least not until the 1980s.
After that, people came to their senses and gave this recipe the attention it deserves. This is because Le Cirque in New York City added it to their menu. Its popularity skyrocketed after this and the rest was creme brulee history.
The 1980s has been called a second renaissance, a time of self-indulgence, and creme brulee was no exception.
The traditional recipe is slightly different than the recipe used today. Initially, a caramel disc was placed on top of the custard and it was served cold.
This was until some pyromaniac decided it was a good idea to put open flame to a bowl of creme (and yes, they were so right). Another method was to use a hot iron to create the hard caramelized crust, but that’s not as much fun.
Creme Brulee Origin
It’s no surprise that the creme brulee origin story is thought to have developed in France because only the French could make a dessert called “burnt cream” that tastes amazing. Plus, french cuisine is generally divine.
However, there is some speculation as to the true origins of the dish. In fact, England, Spain, and France bicker about their country’s claim to the crispy yet contradictorily creamy dessert.
Since custard (sans delicious caramelized crust) was so popular in the Middle Ages, historians aren’t sure where it came from. A surprising amount of European countries have their own version…but everyone agrees it’s life-changing.
How to Make Creme Brulee
Even though it’s a french dessert and looks fancy, creme brulee is not as intimidating as it might seem. It’s actually fairly easy and quick to make if you have the right creme brulee ingredients. Plus it stores up to two days in the fridge, covered, so you can make it in advance if you aren’t sure how long it will take you.
Creme Brulee Ingredients
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split down the middle and seeds scraped out
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 6 tsp caster sugar
- Optional garnish (strawberries, raspberries, etc.)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit
- Bring 8 cups of water to a boil
- Add granulated sugar into a large bowl with the vanilla bean seeds and mix to combine. (Note: you may need to use your fingers for this part to avoid clumps so make sure you washed your hands)
- Whisk in egg yolks until combined, then gradually add in cream
- Pour mixture through a sieve to strain and into a pitcher for easy pouring
- Fill 6 ramekins with the mixture (about 1/2 cup each) and place in a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan
- Fill the pan with boiling water so that it covers halfway up the ramekins
- Put the pan in the oven for about 40 minutes until they only slightly jiggle
- Let the ramekins cool on the tray for an hour (yes, I mean a full hour, not “45 minutes is probably long enough”)
- Remove from water and allow to chill overnight (cover after 30 minutes in the fridge)
- Sprinkle 1 and 1/2 teaspoons sugar evenly over each ramekin
- Here is where you show your true cooking colors: pyromaniac or Martha Stewart. Grab your kitchen torch and torch the sugar until golden brown. OR you can preheat your broiler and broil on the top rack (4-5 inches away from element) for about 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown
- Chill until the top is nice and crisp, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Add garnish if desired and serve (serve with a tiny spoon if possible because they’re adorable with creme brulee)
Congratulations! You now know how to make creme brulee!
Where to Buy Creme Brulee
Too lazy to make creme brulee yourself? Or maybe just have a fear of fire? That’s ok because we’ll tell you where to buy creme brulee if you want to.
The best option is to go to a restaurant and order it fresh. Let the professionals do what they do best.
Otherwise, you can go to most grocery stores and find some, admittedly less tasty version of creme brulee. But don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Because of its popularity, you can also indulge in creme brulee ice cream, coffee creamer, donuts…the list goes on. So, even if you don’t want store-bought creme brulee, there are a multitude of options.
Get Your Creme Brulee on
There should be no reason you aren’t going crazy with desire for creme brulee now, plus you got some history sprinkled in there too. The only thing left to do is to go get some.
We recommend making it yourself for both the prestige and the pride of a job well done (#doinitforthegram). If cooking fabulous desserts isn’t your thing, you can get it from a restaurant or the grocery store if you aren’t feeling motivated.
Want more recipes and fun historical facts about people fighting over food? Head to our blog!