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Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée

From Chef Oonagh Williams of Gluten-Free Cooking with Oonagh.

Chef Oonagh's Creme Brulee RecipeThis version of the classic recipe came from my friend Cheryl Emerson, the Pastry Chef Instructor at Milford High School. This makes 4 not-so-indulgent portions or 2 very indulgent portions. Choose any oven-safe ramekin, custard cup, even tea cup for this recipe. The photo shows a ramekin, custard cup and tea cup, all with same amount of custard, cooked for same amount of time. The tea cup is shown without caramel.

There is a difference in texture between using whole eggs and egg yolks, which make a far richer custard. DO NOT overcook, as the custard changes from silky smooth to firmer and grainier the longer you cook them. There is no need to cook custard in a double boiler (saucepan) first and then cook in oven. I have tried making them with coconut milk, but it is not as wonderful. Without caramel, these are still wonderful. Even better, it’s a dessert best made a day in advance.

Custard Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (8 fl. oz., 240 ml) heavy cream
  • 3 egg yolks (1½ oz.)
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) sugar
  • 2 oz. (56 g) white chocolate (I use Lindt)
    OR 2 oz. (1/3 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips and increase to 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) sugar

Custard Directions:

  1. Gently warm the cream and sugar.
  2. Stir in chocolate until it melts. If necessary, microwave in 10 second increments and stir until melted.
  3. As long as cream is only gently warm, add egg yolks one at a time. I blend them in with my immersion blender to get smooth mix so I don’t have to strain the egg custard.
  4. Pour into 2 or 4 buttered ramekins and place in 3-4” deep skillet. Check that the ramekins will fit in the skillet before you start. Pour in enough hot water to reach half way up sides of ramekins.
  5. Bake in a 350°F (170°C) preheated over. Do not cook above 350°F because the eggs will start curdling. Start checking if the custard is cooked at 20 minutes and then every 5 minutes until cooked. Note that 4 ramekins will cook faster than 2 ramekins. The 4 ramekins in my oven took 30 minutes total. The custard should still wobble in the center when removed, as they will continue cooking even when removed from oven. DON’T cook them until totally set all over, because they will be too firm. If you put a knife between center and outer edge of custard it should come out with thickened cream showing, not runny liquid.
  6. Remove from oven, remove from water bath, let cool and then refrigerate.

Topping Ingredients:

Most people don’t have a ‘torch’ for caramelizing sugar on top of custard to make the brûlée part of recipe, and I am reluctant to put ceramic dishes under a broiler to burn the sugar. I make regular caramel and then spoon about 1 Tbsp. on top of cold custard. The caramel sets hard, and you crack it with a spoon to eat. Any custards left with caramel on top, the caramel will liquefy after a time.

  • ½ cup (120 ml) white/granulated sugar (not brown as it is far more difficult to see if brown sugar has caramelized)
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) water

Topping Directions:

  1. Dissolve sugar in water in small pan, then leave to boil without stirring until caramel is light golden brown/amber. On a high heat, sugar can turn to caramel in less than 5 minutes, so don’t walk away
  2. Remove from heat, spoon over custard, leave for a few minutes to harden, then serve.

Note: Remember that a sugar burn hurts. Put pan to soak in warm water and leftover caramel will dissolve.


  • Eggnog style: 1 Tbsp. rum, 1 tsp. brandy, pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • Add 1-2 Tbsp. of any liqueur you like
  • Split a vanilla bean and simmer with cream, then scrape out vanilla seeds
  • Melt 2 Tbsp. Nutella with the cream

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