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!
PeggiFebruary 3, 2023 at 5:53 am
Good morning! I love a sweet treat to end the week! (or to begin the week, or in the middle of the week) Custard is one of my mother’s favorite desserts, so I learned to make it as a kid. While I always enjoyed it, I much preferred its gloppier cousin pudding. As for crème brûlée, I definitely think of that as the purview of more abstemious sweet aficionados. No three bite desserts for this kid. HA. Gourmet ingredients though…tell me all about them! The fragrance of fine vanilla? Heaven! I also love the concentrated convenience of a vanilla paste. Bonus points for being a reputable, ethical company! Pretty amazing. Around here, Valentine’s Day is primarily an excuse for a special meal. Truth be told, I don’t require much prodding to plan a festive menu. Now you’ve got my wheels turning! Happy Pizza Friday! Cheers to more family fun and a spectacular weekend!💜
SarahFebruary 5, 2023 at 10:32 am
You know I’m all about a sweet treat! I love that you learned to make custard as a kid. I’m oddly not as into pudding and I don’t think I’ve ever made it from scratch (sounds like a fun new challenge!). Yessss- I’ve always the fragrant smell of vanilla. That’s the quintessential smell of baking to me. I’m so impressed with the Heilala vanilla products… I’m a convert for sure. The paste is amazing- you’d love baking with that one. We’re the same in regards to Valentine’s Day… it’s a good excuse to eat special food. I hope you’re having a great weekend! We’re about to take the kids ice skating and have been enjoying family time :) xo
DannaFebruary 3, 2023 at 8:27 am
Looks delish! I have always thought of creme brûlée & bananas foster as the Bergdorf Goodman of desserts. You have convinced me to try it. I even went as far as to google how to caramelize the top with a spoon if you do not have a torch. Ha! Honestly, I have never heard of vanilla paste & this brand would be a great way to try in recipes. My husband would love the vanilla sugar as well. We like to stay at home during Valentines. A new drink or dessert is one we usually try.
Friends, we have had a doozy of an ice storm here. The temps will thankfully get 40* + today and most of the ice is melting. There is so many beautiful trees that have lost huge limbs or the whole tree fell over. It is sad. We are afraid to go out to our property where we have huge oaks. The ice & falling trees also snapped power lines. Many homes, businesses and grocery stores are without power. We are lucky and only lost power for 4 hours. Texas is not built for this type of weather. Today is better, thankfully.
Sarah, I know restrictions are hard. You are doing so well. Thanks for sharing a lovely dessert but more so an ethically good company we should know about. Hope everyone’s weekend and pizza friday is good. We are excited to travel to see our son and his fraternity friends & families.
ColleenFebruary 3, 2023 at 10:49 am
Oh no Danna! Losing mature trees to an ice storm is sad indeed. And falling limbs are such a danger! Ice storms are the worst 😩
Staying inside and making some crème brûlée sounds like a good idea though 😊 Be safe and stay warm! Xoxo
SarahFebruary 5, 2023 at 10:08 am
Thanks, Danna! I agree- crème brûlée always feels fancy and special, but it’s easy to make! Let me know how it goes for you. I’ve never tried the spoon method, but I’ve heard it works well- that or broiling them in the oven. The vanilla sugar is SO good! Emmett likes to put some in his coffee. I’m so sorry to hear about your ice storm. I hate that for your landscape and the trees. Ice is no joke! It certainly has a way of destroying things. I hope power has been restored to your area- I’m glad you didn’t lose yours for long, but it’s scary to be without heat when it’s that cold. Hopefully it warms up in Texas soon… thinking of you guys! I hope you had a fun weekend with your son and his friends. We’re still enjoying family time over here :) xo
ColleenFebruary 3, 2023 at 8:52 am
Oh yum Sarah, I love crème brûlée 😋 I’ve never made it before but usually order it when I’m at a nice restaurant. It’s been quite a while since I’ve had it actually, I will let you know if I give it a whirl. I’m not the baking queen you are ☺️ Your recipe does look so divine.
I’ve been making my own vanilla yogurt, my neighbor taught me last year and shared her perfect recipe. I’m going to check out your vanilla source, supporting ethical, sustainable farming methods that support women while providing the best quality is a win, win, win. And I’ve never had vanilla sugar, I bet it would be fabulous in my yogurt recipe. Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful recipe and Happy Friday 🍕
Have a wonderful visit with your family, Yay! And the best weekend ❤️ Cheers 🥂
SarahFebruary 5, 2023 at 10:03 am
It’s one of my favorite desserts- so good! I love that you’ve been making your own yogurt- that’s something I’ve never attempted. It sounds delicious! Let me know if you give the vanilla a try… it’s definitely my new favorite! I hope you’re having an amazing weekend. We’re taking our niece & nephews ice skating today and are having a great time with the family :) xo
Anne HFebruary 6, 2023 at 2:45 pm
Oooooo, thank you so much for letting us know about this incredible company, Sarah. As a fellow baker, I’m always looking for fine ingredients to up my game and this vanilla definitely sounds like a game changer. Cannot wait to try them and support their wonderful mission. And, you’re right — crème brûlée does get a bad rep for being difficult (maybe because it’s so decadent?!), but I haven’t had a recipe fail yet. Have you ever tried making it w/ a chocolate ganache on the bottom?? Talk about life changing, too! I hope you get some answers soon and can get back on that sweet train, soon!
SarahFebruary 7, 2023 at 9:06 pm
You’ll LOVE the vanilla, Anne! It’s the only one I use these days. They’re so amazing! I have not tried making crème brûlée with chocolate ganache on the bottom, but now you have my wheels turning- I think I’ll try that for Valentine’s Day. Thanks for the awesome idea! I hope you’re having such a good February so far :) xo
Anne HFebruary 8, 2023 at 12:26 pm
Ooooo, I haven’t made it in forever so I think I will, too! 😍 You’ll have to let me know what you think, especially using your new vanilla!
LaurenFebruary 7, 2023 at 7:30 am
Good morning! I was on a flight to Dallas awaiting takeoff when I saw this recipe hit my inbox. I hurriedly perused through your pictures and knew instantly this was one to save. I’m a crème brûlée fanatic. Years of being in the food industry taught me that not all are created equal, but that this dessert was an underdog amongst sweet culinary endeavors. My weekend in Dallas was jam packed and fun (a leadership conference for my fraternity), and I couldn’t wait to catch up on this when I came home. I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy a food torch for years, and the tart dishes have been stowed in a cabinet unused for some time. It’s time to change that. Thank you for spotlighting such a wonderful brand- I will definitely place an order before I dive into this recipe. It looks absolutely divine! I hope your weekend was equally enjoyable- it’s always lovely to visit with family isn’t it? Enjoy the rest of your week with them Sarah!
SarahFebruary 7, 2023 at 8:58 pm
Hi Lauren! I hope you had a good trip to Dallas- it sounds like it was packed with fun! I bet your little baker would also have fun watching you use the culinary torch- or teaching her how to safely do it. My grandma always said that baking doubles as a science lesson, ha! We had so much fun with the kids over the weekend… skiing, ice skating, ice cream eating, snowman building, and all the fun winter things our TN living family rarely get to enjoy. It was so wonderful. Hope you’re settling back in at home! xo