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Creme brulee is a decadent dessert that is surprisingly easy to make at home. What makes this brulee truly special is the addition of fresh vanilla bean. If you have never had fresh vanilla bean, I highly suggest you try it! Like many things, once you’ve had it, it’s hard to settle for anything less. However, purchased in the grocery store they are both expensive and less than impressive. Your best bet is to find a reputable source who carries fresh beans.
I’ve teamed up with Taylor from Vanilla Bean Kings to showcase their Madagascar beans in a creme brulee. If you are looking for a great source for vanilla beans, extract, powder, or paste, head over to their website and check them out!
Creme Brulee for Four or Five
Step One ~ Gather the Ingredients
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped (instructions below)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 quart hot water
Step Two ~ Gather Tools
- Ramekins–the most common sizes are 4 and 5 ounce. I used 4 oz which made 5 brulees.
- Baking dish (not pictured at the moment)
- Kitchen torch–optional! You can certainly do this with a broiler or grill lighter. I chose to get a kitchen torch because I love gadgets.
Step Three ~ Split and Scrape the Vanilla Bean
You will be using a cutting board and small, but sharp, paring knife for this. Begin by cutting directly down the middle of the bean, being careful not to cut complete through it. Once you’ve run the length of the bean, use your fingers to carefully open the pod up.
Using the BACK of the paring knife, gently, but firmly, glide it along the inside of the bean. This collects what is called the “caviar.” These are the little flecks of black you see in ice creams and where the big vanilla flavor comes from.
Preheat your oven to 325 F and boil a quart of water.
Step Four ~ Infuse the Cream
Add the heavy cream, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, and the caviar to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Be sure to stir it so it doesn’t scald on the bottom and get the film on top. Give a vigorous whisk every once in awhile to break the caviar apart. Once it comes to a boil, remove from heat and let cool for 15 minutes.
Step Five ~ The Egg Yolks
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and 1/4 cup of the sugar until they are pale yellow like the picture on the right. It does take some time and your arm will get tired, but it’s worth it. Add the cream in a little bit at a time, while whisking, to temper the eggs. This avoids having the hot cream scramble the egg yolks. Once the custard is mixed, pour into your ramekins.
Place your ramekins in the baking dish and pour the hot water in until it is halfway up the ramekin. PLEASE be sure your dish is at room temperature if it is glass. Adding hot water to a cold glass dish can cause it to explode.
Place in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes. The center should still be a bit jiggly. Carefully transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool. Refrigerate for AT LEAST 3 hours or up to 3 days.
Step Six ~ Fire
Now comes the fun part–the sugar!
Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup ( or more if you want) of sugar on top of the chilled creme brulees. Using the kitchen torch, work in small circles to caramelize the sugar. If you’re using a grill lighter, do the same. If using the broiler, monitor the tops closely!
Allow the brulees to cool for five minutes and then enjoy!
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