Happy Friday! As we head into the first weekend of February, I thought it would be fitting to share one of my favorite easy and impressive dessert recipes with you- just in time for Valentine’s Day. I basically use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to indulge in really good food & drinks, whether we stay at home or go out. More often than not, we stay in and make a really delicious meal together. Crème brûlée has long been a favorite dessert of mine… it is light, elegant, the perfect ending to an indulgent meal, the silky texture never disappoints, and the flavor usually speaks for itself. However, this simple five ingredient recipe has a reputation for being notoriously difficult. I’ve sort of found that to be a myth. I’ve never had a crème brûlée fail and this is the recipe I’ve been using for years. It’s easy, delectable, impressive, and always looks as good as it tastes. Click through or pin this one for later… it’s one worth keeping! I’m also sharing my new obsession with a not-so-secret ingredient that has taken my baking to the next level. These are definitely the best I’ve ever made…
What makes a good crème brûlée? It’s 100% about the ingredients. I can’t emphasize that enough- be sure to use high quality ingredients for the best flavor. Being such a simple recipe, the key to a memorable crème brûlée is what goes into it… and the technique. Aside from that, if you can follow instructions- I promise, it’s one of the easiest desserts you can make.
One of my best friends (who knows I love to bake), asked if I had ever heard of Heilala, a Tongan vanilla company. My friend works with women-owned businesses who have incredible products in the food space, and she happened to be working with them. She piqued my interest telling me about their vanilla & values, so I looked them up and ordered some vanilla to try over the summer. Fast forward six months later, I’m devoted Heilala super fan- I will never use another vanilla as long as they’re in business. That’s my secret to success when making crème brûlée.
Still chatting vanilla for a minute longer (clearly it’s a newfound passion in my kitchen). My grandma always lectured when baking to “use good vanilla”, but I truly started appreciating it after my dive trip to Polynesia. I got to see how it was made firsthand and was eager to bring some home with me. When my friend shared information about the ethics behind the vanilla industry, I quickly realized it’s not all created equal. Heilala actually started as an aid project after a cyclone nearly washed away the entire island of Vava’u. Their farm provides employment opportunities (especially for women), gives back to the local community, and is the ONLY vanilla company that is B Corp Certified… meaning they do business responsibly, sustainably, ethically, and creative a positive impact on the community & environment. Having been in the food industry myself, I know that’s a big deal. That also put them on the map to gain popularity amongst Michelin star chefs, who care about fresh ingredients and sustainable production. Anyway, they’re a wonderful women-owned company with an amazing mission, but I think the biggest standout for me is the taste…. hands down the best vanilla I’ve ever had. It’s noticeable in my baking.
For this recipe, I used vanilla paste, vanilla extract, and vanilla sugar. There is certainly no lack of flavor in this crème brûlée. I figured if I was going to go rogue on my doctor’s restricted diet- I should probably go big. Ha! Don’t worry, I only ate one. Talk about self restraint. Here is the recipe (be sure to pin it!)…
Easy Crème Brûlée
- Culinary Torch
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla paste
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp vanilla sugar for the brûlée
- Allow all your ingredients to come to room temperature before beginning.
- Heat the oven to 325 degrees, then find a large deep baking dish (like a rectangular cake pan).
- In a saucepan, combine the cream, vanilla paste, and salt, whisking over low heat- just until the liquid is hot. Allow it to rest for a few minutes, cooling slightly.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and granulated sugar until they are light in color. Add the vanilla extract, beating until combined.
- Pour the cream into the egg / sugar mixture, stirring until incorporated.
- Pour and divide amongst 4-6 ramekins, placing each ramekin into the baking dish.
- Fill the baking dish with boiling water, until it is halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake for 40 minutes- or until the centers are barely set. Cool completely, then refrigerate for several hours... or up to a couple of days.
- When you're ready to serve the crème brûlée, pull them from the fridge, sprinkle the tops with a layer of vanilla sugar, then using the culinary torch- melt the sugar until it's brown and toasted. Garnish and enjoy!
For the crunchy brûlée top, the vanilla sugar is what really makes it! This stuff is what my dreams are made of. As soon as I’m released back on the sweets train, you best believe I’m going to vanilla brûlée everything… my morning grapefruit, oranges, ice cream, I randomly heard brûlée goat cheese is pretty exceptional? It definitely got my foodie wheels turning. Emmett puts a spoonful of the vanilla sugar in his coffee each morning.
I’m also here to say- don’t be afraid of the culinary torch. Emmett got me this torch and it’s something I use far more than I ever expected to… and not just for baking (brûlée, toasting meringue, etc). Oddly enough, I also use it to melt cheese, crisp up taco shells, roast & char peppers, add a crust to gratin or mac n cheese, etc. It’s the kitchen tool I never knew I needed until I had one. It’s easy and safe to use!
My favorite part of making crème brûlée is creating the crunchy sugar top. Sprinkle the vanilla sure onto the top of the custard, set your torch to low / medium, and gently brûlée the sugar. It’s quick, easy, and effective. Ready to see my finished desserts?
Whoa. Right? SO good! This foolproof recipe has never failed me, and with the top notch vanilla- they’ve never tasted better. Even Emmett (who is typically not a big crème brûlée fan), ate the entire thing and went back for seconds. These can be made a couple days in advance, so it’s a quick & easy recipe to tackle the day before.
I placed a couple berries as a garnish to add a pop of color, but they’re not necessary. You could also serve these with your favorite champagne or wine this Valentine’s Day, if you’re looking for a special & festive dessert.
Sadly, I’m back to my restricted diet for the foreseeable future as I await food sensitivity test results (fun times over here), but I’ll admit- I have one more sweet recipe to share with you! I went on a baking frenzy last week and could not be stopped. I’ll try to get it pulled together before Valentine’s Day so you have a couple solid options, if you’re also staying in and are looking forward to an indulgent recipe. Cheers to a wonderful weekend ahead! We’ll be spending quality time with our family who is here visiting… we’re already having so much fun together. Let me know if you give this recipe a try!