How to make creme brûlée


Grab your blowtorch and learn how to make creme brûlée, a custardy, creamy, burnt-sugar celebration of dessert. We love this one, can you tell? Your chef is Marc Bauer, from the French Culinary Institute.

How to make creme brûlée

For 4 servings:

1. Slice vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape seeds and resin from half the bean, place in large sauce pan with the other half of the vanilla bean.
2. Add heavy cream and scald (cook) on low heat until hot, but not boiling.
3. While cream is warming, whisk egg yolks and sugar thoroughly.
4. When cream is hot, ladle 1/2 cup into the yolks and sugar, mix.
5. Then pour all the cream into the mixture.
6. Mix, taking care not to whip air into the mixture.
7. Pour through a strainer into a clean bowl.
8. Remove bubbles (you have to see this).
9. Place a wet towel on the bottom of a large shallow baking dish.
10. Fill four ramekins almost to the top with the custard mixture.
11. Place three ramekins in the baking dish.
12. Add boiling water half way to the top of the baking dish, do not get water in ramekins.
13. Add last ramekin.
14. Bake 35 minutes at 325 degrees.
15. Test for doneness by tapping the side of a ramekin. Custard should jiggle a bit.
16. Chill ramekins for four hours.
17. Remove from refrigerator, fill top of each with brown sugar.
18. Place on a clean baking sheet.
19. Use blowtorch to burn the sugar on top of each ramekin.
20. Make sure no one makes off with your portion; this stuff is heaven on a spoon.
21. Assign someone else to clean up the kitchen.


Hi, I am Mark Bauer, I am from the French Culinary Institute. I would like to show you how to make crème brûlée.

You are going to use about two cups of cream, 1/3 cup of sugar, four egg yolks and a half of a vanilla bean. It is a fruit of an orchard and it grows from a process of frutation and drying and most of them come from the region of Madagascar. It is called a Bourbon vanilla bean. You can use vanilla extract if you want to, but it is better to use a vanilla bean. The vanilla bean should be soft; and what you do is, not dried out. You can slice it in half, and here is how you remove the vanilla flavor from the bean. You remove those grains and it is delicious. To which you add half a vanilla bean also. Both will add delicious flavor and color to your crème brûlée.

Now we are going to add the cream, two cups of cream. If you don’t have the vanilla bean, you can use a teaspoon of vanilla extract. I’m just going to scald it, which means it should be about 140 degrees or so.

At the same time the cream is warming up — there is a term called blanching — I’m going to whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. I am going to mix the yolks with the sugar by stirring. Just to make sure that the yolks and the sugar are well mixed together. I’m going to take my cream, which has been scalding at a low temperature so that the vanilla flavor will mix with the cream, and I am going to temper this cream into the yolks, which is adding about an ounce or two of yolks. This will allow the mixture not to cook when I pour it into the cream.

That’s it, I have tempered it. Pour it all at once. At this point I can strain it, and it is ready to be stirred into a ramekin. Now that my mixture is thoroughly stirred, I want to make sure I don’t add too much air into my custard. Otherwise, it will interact in my final product.

At this point, I’m going to strain it through a bullion strainer. Remove the vanilla bean or any eggshells that might be in my custard. At this point, you can remove the air bubbles. One nice little trick is to use a blowtorch: You will find this in a hardware store, and it is used for plumbing, usually. But you turn it on and you remove the bubbles immediately. You can also — if any bubbles are left — you can remove them with a two-ounce ladle until the surface is completely clear except for the specs of the vanilla bean.

Once all the bubbles are removed, I’m going to cook the custard in a water bath. The reason for that is that the little ramekins of crème brûlée will overcook easily. So I put a wet towel on the bottom; it can be paper, parchment paper, and I will also pour some boiling water at the end, too.

So at this point, I am filling the ramekin. The ramekin should be filled almost to the top. I will need to remove the bubbles at the end, too. As I pour the custard into the ramekins, some bubbles get created. Onto the end, pour the rest in and that’s it. Before you fill the last ramekin, you need to pour some water about half way to the top of the ramekin. It will give me some space, so no water gets poured into the ramekin by accident. I will only pour it halfway in case I wobble on my way to the oven and this is boiling water. It will allow you to cook the crème brûlée fast.

It will take about 30-35 minutes to cook in a 325-degree oven. Now we add the last ramekin, and we are all set to bake. So my crème brûlées have been cooking for about 35 minutes at 325 degrees. I am going to check them out. So I slide them out and they should be wiggling like jelly. So I check it out like this, definitely ready to go. So my crème brûlée are set: I am gong to remove them. I won’t use my fingers it is a little hot at this point, I will use a pair of tongs; watch out that no water goes into the crème brûlée. I am going to put them in the refrigerator for about four hours until completely chilled.

So as soon as the crème brûlée are chilled — it has been about four hours now — I’m going to take them out, pour some sugar. You can be generous with it because the excess will come off like this; that’s it, I clean the sides. And note that once I clean up the ramekins I will put them on a completely clean sheet pan, because once I use my blow torch it will burn the sugar on the sheet pan, so I can recycle this sugar.

And now we are ready to finish the crème brûlée. I stay about two to three inches away. I let it set for a while. As you can see, it starts to turn golden brown right away. It will allow the heat to be more even. Once it is golden brown, and I wait for about 10 seconds, go back again and finish them. I want to have one or two burn spots, there we go. You can see, I have a couple of burn spots, you get a delicious bitter hint but very sweet, wonderful with a crème brûlée. There we are: We have a crème brûlée for dessert.

meet theexpert
  • Marc Bauer

    Marc Bauer Master Chef, French Culinary Institute Marc Bauer is a Master Chef and Roundsman at the renowned French Culinary Institute and its popular L'Ecole Restaurant in New York City. more about this expert »

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