Crème brûlée

Prep Time: 0:40
Cook Time: 0:30
Serves: 4

Ingredients / Shopping List

300ml double cream
200ml milk
1 vanilla pod
6 egg yolks
100g sugar
2 tsp cornflour 
Caramel topping:
30g caster sugar
30g granulated sugar


Prep to Cook:  Saucepan, spatula, chopping board, veg knife, teaspoon, mixing bowl, whisk, roasting tray, shallow dishes (cook and serve)
Oven preheated to 150°C or Gas Mark 2
Hot grill: for the topping Optional: Use blowtorch



Measure the cream and milk into a saucepan.

Split the vanilla pod into half lengthwise on a chopping board. Use a teaspoon to scrape out the vanilla grains and put these in the pan along with the remaining vanilla pod with the milk and cream.

Bring this mixture to the boil gently and then remove the vanilla pod.

Separate the egg yolks from the whites (freeze the whites to make meringues another time)

In a mixing bowl blend together the yolks, cornflour and the sugar.  

Pour over the hot cream and gently whisk to mix the yolks into the liquid thoroughly but with too much foam.

Sieve the mixture between the shallow cook and serve dishes. 

Stand them in the roasting dish and create a ‘water bath’ around the dishes to slow the cooking.

Place in the preheated oven and leave for about 30 minutes until the custards are just wobbly.

Chill – overnight in the refrigerator.

To serve:

reheat the grill on high.

Prepare the topping by mixing the two types of sugar together.

Sprinkle the sugars over the custards in a thin even layer.

Pop the custards under the grill until the caramel is golden.  It will brown rapidly so watch carefully.


ome people use a blow torch for browning the caramel.

Serve immediately the caramel has become crisp.


Check it out!

Crème brûlée is different to Crème caramel because the caramel is a hard, brittle caramel layer not a runny syrup.  The same ingredients are used but they make two very different desserts. 

Recipe Science

Cooks Know How: Simple ingredients used effectively make this pudding the true test of a good cook.  The recipe relies on the gentle coagulation of the egg yolks.  It is ruined if the coagulation is too fierce because syneresis will occur.  This will be seen as pockets of water fluid oozing from the custard and a rather tough texture to the custard.  The key is to cook at a gentle temperature and to use a water bath as this slows down the rate of heat penetration into the custard.  Wide and shallow dishes are used for Crème brûlée to give a perfect ratio of custard to caramel when eaten.  The custard is flavoured with vanilla.  Vanilla pods are expensive but perhaps this is the classic dessert that deserves this expense.  Alternately you can use vanilla bean paste which is cheaper per serving.

Preparing the perfect custard is essential and once cooked this can be chilled to firm up.

To serve, the custards need a very thin layer of sugar to be caramelised on the surface until a crisp layer forms.  Some people use a blow torch for this but a conventional grill will work well if preheated. Take care with the the grill, it needs to be on high and really hot.  

Sprinkle the mix of caster and granulated sugar and flash them under the hot grill.  As soon as you see the caramel forming remove them from the heat and allow them to cool.  Burnt caramel tastes very bitter. Caramelisation is the magic that makes these desserts so very special