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Crème Brûlée 101: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

Interested in learning more about creme brulee and its fascinating culinary origins? Ever since we started work on our best-selling Creme Brulee candle, we've been fascinated by this elegant French custard.


What is Crème Brûlée?

Creme brûlée is a French dessert that is composed of a rich and creamy custard base that is topped with a layer of hard caramel. The caramel topping adds a slight burnt sugar flavor and crunch to the dessert. This elegant dessert is typically served chilled and can be garnished with various toppings such as fresh berries or chocolate shavings.

Where did crème brûlée originate?

Creme brulee originated in France in the Palace of Versailles, in the kitchens of Francois Massialot, chef to Louis IX. 

How do you pronounce crème brûlée?

Say it: krEHm broo-LAY

It's a French name (with lots of accents) so the pronunciation may be slightly different than what English speakers would expect. However, rest assured, it's equally delicious in all languages!

What does crème brûlée taste like?

Creme brûlée is a rich, creamy dessert that has a slightly sweet and tangy flavor. The caramel topping adds a slight burnt sugar flavor and crunch to the dessert.

What does crème brûlée smell like?

Creme brulee smells like a sweet and slightly burnt sugar.

How is Creme Brûlée made?

Making Creme Brulee is a relatively simple process with just a few ingredients. The first step is to create the custard base by combining milk, sugar, and egg yolks in a saucepan. The mixture is then heated over medium heat until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. The custard mixture can then be poured into ramekins or other individual serving dishes to cool to room temperature. It is important to make sure that the custard is cooled completely before adding the hard caramel topping.

How do you brûlée the caramel?

The final step in making creme brûlée is to brûlée the caramel layer. This can be done with a kitchen torch or under a broiler/grill.

How to torch crème brûlée

The ideal way to create the topping is with a kitchen torch which makes the process both simple and an impressive show for dinner guests (though we recommend practicing a few times before you do it for an audience). Hold the torch about 2-3 inches away from the surface until the sugar melts to an even caramel crunch.

How to make crème brûlée without a torch

If you do not have a kitchen torch, you can also brûlée the caramel topping by placing the ramekins under a broiler/grill. Beware that this is less than ideal — be sure to keep a close eye on the desserts while they are broiling, as they can quickly go from golden brown to burnt.


How to eat creme brûlée

Creme brûlée is typically served as a chilled dessert and eaten with a spoon. Cracking the crisp caramel crust for the first bite is delightful. From then on, each bite is a mixture of crunchy topping and smooth custard.

What are some variations on crème brûlée?

There are many variations on creme brûlée that can be made by adding different flavors to the custard base or changing up the type of topping used. Some popular variations include chocolate creme brûlée, pumpkin creme brûlée, and pistachio creme brûlée.

What is the difference between crème brûlée and crème caramel?

Crème brûlée and crème caramel are two different types of custard desserts. Crème brûlée is made with a rich custard base that is topped with a layer of hard caramel. Crème caramel is made with a caramelized sugar syrup that is poured over a layer of custard.

What’s the difference between flan and creme brûlée?

Crème brûlée is a dessert that is composed of a rich custard base that is topped with a layer of hard caramel. Flan is a dessert that is composed of a custard base that is typically baked in a pie crust.

Is creme brûlée gluten-free?

Yes, most basic creme brûlée recipes should be is gluten-free though it's always wise to double-check if the chef has added some ingredients or flavoring that contain gluten.

Is crème brûlée supposed to be eaten hot?

No, crème brûlée is supposed to be eaten cold. The custard base should be firm and the caramel topping should be crispy.

How to reheat creme brûlée

Crème brûlée is typically served cold so there is no need to reheat it.

What size ramekin for crème brûlée?

Most crème brûlée recipes call for 6-8 ounce ramekins. Consider the ratio of caramel top to custard you'd like — if your favorite part is the crunchy topping, going with a larger, shallow ramekin is ideal. If you prefer the custard, go with a deeper, smaller ramekin.

How long does creme brûlée last?

Crème brûlée will last for 2-3 days in the fridge and is a great make-ahead dessert. It is best to cover it with plastic wrap or in an airtight container.

Is crème brûlée healthy?

No, crème brûlée is decidely not a health food. It is a rich and creamy dessert that is high in sugar and calories.

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