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Easy Creme Brulee Recipe (Vanilla, Lemon and Chai)

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
Basic Creme
3 cups Heavy Cream >36% fat
1/2 tsp Vanilla Paste or 1 vanilla pod
6 tbsp Sugar
6 Egg Yolk large
8 cups Hot Water Enough for water bath
Vanilla Flavour
1/4 tsp Vanilla Paste
Lemon Flavour
1 lemon Lemon Zest
2-3 tsp Lemon Juice to taste
Chai Powder
1 tsp Clove Powder Refer to post if using whole spices
1 tbsp Cardamon Powder
2 tbsp Cinammon Powder
1 tbsp Ginger Powder
1/2 tbsp Nutmeg Powder Grated Nutmeg
2 pinches Black Pepper
Caramelised Top
9 tsp Brown Sugar

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Easy Creme Brulee Recipe (Vanilla, Lemon and Chai)

3 delicious flavours of creme brulee all at once!

  • 1h05m
  • Serves 9
  • Easy

Ingredients

  • Basic Creme

  • Vanilla Flavour

  • Lemon Flavour

  • Chai Powder

  • Caramelised Top

Directions

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What I love in a good creme brulee is the  smooth and creamy texture that is rightly flavoured and not too sweet, complemented by the crunchy caramelised sugar layer on top. Contrast of smooth and creamy with hard, bitter-sweet crunch…. Simply divine! Today, I will share this easy creme brulee recipe adapted from Alton Brown that I have tried and tested and took it a step further by splitting 1 batch into 3 flavours (for variety).

The first time I tried his recipe, I felt rather sinful, especially when my cousin asked me what was in there…. Erm…. cream, sugar and yolks…. So tried to make it slightly healthier by reducing the heavy cream and sugar and I am happy to report results were just as good. You can try both and compare for yourself. =) I did consider using low fat, but don’t think it will work as you need the fats to give it that creamy texture. So next best thing will be to lower the cream usage so the overall recipe is lower in fat. Anyway, fat is not the trendy killer now. Sugar is. =P But we don’t say goodbye to dessert. We just make it a little bit less sinful without sacrificing on quality.

I did a bit of reading to find out the role of the high fat cream and decided to experiment with same amount yolks, but 1/4 less cream. I was initially worried that there is not enough cream and the creme will be too stiff, but I am happy to report that it tastes as good, if not better than the original! And it is cheaper too. =P

A good creme brulee is not hard to make. Common problems I hear people facing are mostly to do with cooking the creme – making sure that it does not curdle. This can be easily resolved by 2 ways:

  1. taking care to add the hot cream slowly while whisking and
  2. throwing into the blender when it does curdle.

Besides these, I get shitty creme brulees while eating in restaurants when the top was not properly torched (or in 1 case, totally not torched and they insist that is how the serve it, with sugar crystals scattered on top….-_- and it was $7 for a serving… NOT CHEAP!) or not freshly torched. This sucks too as then water condensation makes the brulee part (the burnt hard caramelised sugar on top) sticky, soft and gooey, it loses the crunchy texture. Gross. I mean how hard is torching the Brulee right before serving it? But yes, it means you need an extra tool – the blowtorch, if you want to make creme brulee at home.

The blow torch is really quite inexpensive which we bought from Amazon. We love to shop on Amazon because in many cases you can buy stuff at a much cheaper price even with shipping. In this case, the Amazon one was not cheaper but we wanted a small torch and I could only find a big one at Phoon Huat which we also bought for $20.80 + $2 for a canister of fuel. The big one is handy for torching meats after sous vide and the small one is handy for desserts and bringing it out for parties.

Back to the creme brulee… I got ambitious and made 3 flavours with one batch (it will be so boring to have 9 creme brulees all of the same flavour!) and luckily for me, they are turned out great!  Of course having 2 pairs of hands helped as well especially for a first attempt but subsequently I made it all by myself and it was pretty easy with a bit of organization skills which I hope to share here. And one thing about making this at home is that you know you are using quality ingredients like cream and real flavours and not food additives to cut cost.

How did I decide on these 3 flavours? I was having a little craving for Chai when I was making the creme brulee, thus decided to make a Chai Creme Brulee. And it is pretty exotic isn’t it? I got the Chai recipe from my friend, Xinhui who got it from Skinny mixers.We had lemons in the fridge, thus lemon flavour and of course we should have the classic Vanilla. Personally, I love all 3 flavours as they each have their merits. If you love Chai, you will love this Chai Creme Brulee as it felt like I was having a super smooth and creamy version of the drink with the bitter-sweet crunch of the brulee just adds an oomph! The lemon was just a tad sour enough to taste refreshing while the vanilla is just a classic well loved by all.

Easy Creme Brulee Recipe 3 flavours
Baked and chilled. The top gets a little crater like probably because of high heat but hey, no big deal if they are gonna be covered with sugar and torched before serving! So long as taste is not compromised. Don’t let little imperfections like this ruin your day. Dessert’s job is to bring JOY.

Trick for 3 flavours

I have basically also made the recipe in measurements that can be easily divided by 3. So one way is to boil the cream and vanilla, then scoop out 1 cup of cream and slowly pour over 2 beaten egg yolks slowly. For each flavour, it is essentially:

  • 1 cup of cream with vanilla
  • 2 large yolks beaten.
  • 2 tbsp sugar for each flavour.

So easy right?? This will make 3 x 7.5cm ramekins or 8 tart sized foil trays each as per below.

The possibilities are endless once you get the basic recipe right. You can have good quality flavours with no artificial flavouring involved like earl grey creme brulee, matcha creme brulee (or your favourite tea blend), pandan creme brulee, kaya creme brulee, strawberry creme brulee, teh tarik creme brulee, bailey’s Irish cream creme brulee, etc. So long as it is good with cream, it is good.

I am already looking at my pantry thinking what flavours to do next. =)

Chai Mix

As mentioned above, I got the recipe from skinny mixers and their full recipe was for making a chai powder mix. For those that do not have all the spices in powder form, you can use them in the big pieces with a recipe that uses the spices as is. I found this recipe online and adjusted the quantity for 1 serving.

  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 cardamon pod
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick broken to pieces
  • 1/4 tsp grated ginger
  • Dash of ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg

Pound the cloves, cardamon and cinnamon together in a mortar. Then mix with others. Simmer on low heat in cream for 2-3 minutes. Strain and pour slowly into egg yolk while whisking the yolk. If you do not have 4 hands, it will hold the strainer over the bowl, pour in a little cream and whisk and repeat this 4 -5 times till fully incorporated.

Baking Different Sizes:

The recipe I am sharing below is for baking in 7.5cm ramekins. If you are going to bake in smaller or bigger vessels, then you may need to adjust the bake times accordingly. When baking the tart sized ones, I baked for 30 minutes and tested to make sure it is firm and still slightly wobbly before removing it from oven. As my oven is rather big, I would suggest those who are using smaller ovens to start testing at 20 minutes and again at 25 or 30 minutes depending.

Conversely, if you decide to make bigger servings, then increase your bake time to 50 minutes or an hour and test with your ovens.

Equipment you need:

    • Big baking dish with water for water bath
    • Oven
    • Ramekins or small baking dish or oven safe bowls (technically, all porcelain bowls are oven safe) The ones I use are about 7.5cm in diameter.
    • Blow torch like these. I got my small one from Amazon (which is good enough) and just buy gas lighter refill locally from phoon huat, or any camping stores.

      • Heavy bottom medium sized pan
      • Sieve
      • measuring spoons
      • whisk
      • weighing scales – we really love our compact scales from Joseph Joseph that we bought from Amazon. It is just ridiculously expensive in Singapore….

Joseph Joseph TriScale Compact Folding Digital Scale, Green

 

Hope you have fun making this easy creme brulee recipe and enjoy the delicious goodness with friends and family! A very simple recipe that just can’t go wrong and easy to impress, especially when you flambe them on the spot. =) The kids are usually quite entertained. Just make sure they stay away from the flame and keep the torch way out of their reach.

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Steps

1
Done

Preheat Oven to 160 C

With middle rack set up.

2
Done

Prepare ramekins and trays

Line up ramekins in a baking tray to make sure all ramekins will have a water bath. I used a deep roasting pan.
If one pan is not enough, use 2. Can use loaf pan too.

3
Done

Cook Cream

Pour 3 cups of cream into a medium saucepan.
Place the saucepan over low to medium heat and bring to gentle boil, taking care not to boil over!
Remove from heat and cover while you beat the yolks and sugar.
If using vanilla pods, remove the pod right before pouring over yolks.

4
Done

Prepare Custard

If using weighing scales, measure the nett weight of yolks + sugar and divide by 3.
Whisk the yolks and sugar till pale yellow. (I prefer to whisk all eggs at once)
Pour out 1/3 of weight to mixing bowl.
If not using weighing scales, place 2 yolks and 2 tbsp sugar in a bowl and whisk till pale yellow. Repeat 2 more times using same bowl after each creme is poured out into ramekins.

5
Done

Vanilla Flavour

In a mixing bowl, add 2 egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar (or 1/3 of custard preparation) with additional vanilla paste.
Whisk to incorporate.
Pour out 1 cup of cream and add 1/5 to yolks and whisk.
Repeat each time taking care not to cook the yolks.
Pour into 3 ramekins.

6
Done

Lemon Flavour

In a mixing bowl, add 2 egg yolks and 2 tbsp sugar (or 1/3 of custard preparation) with lemon zest and lemon juice.
Whisk to incorporate.
Pour out 1 cup of cream and add 1/5 to yolks and whisk.
Repeat each time taking care not to cook the yolks.
Pour into 3 ramekins.

7
Done

Chai Flavour

Bring the remaining cream back to fire on low heat to simmer. Add in 1/2 tsp of chai powder blend or the chai spice blend described in post. Whisk gently and turn off fire once it starts a gentle boil for 2-3 minutes stirring to ensure powder is well incorporated, making sure the cream does not boil.
Then strain 1/5 of cream slowly over the remaining custard mixture. Repeat till fully incorporated, careful not to cook the custard.
Pour into 3 ramekins.

8
Done

Water bath

Place all ramekins into baking dish, careful to label or separate the vanilla and lemon flavours as both are yellow.
Carefully fill the baking dish 1/2 way with water.

9
Done
45m

Bake

Bake the creme brulee for 40-45 minutes or until it is set but middle still wobbly.
Remove from oven and baking pan.

10
Done
2h30m

Cool and refrigerate

Let it cool to about room temperature before placing into a big tupperware or cake container and chill in fridge for 2 hours.
This can store for up to 5 days.

11
Done
2m

Torch before serving

Remove the creme brulee from the fridge.
Dust with about 1 tsp brown sugar evenly.
Torch the sugar till it is totally melted and caramelized.
This is a reduced sugar version. If you want a thicker crunchy shell on top, just add more sugar. Original recipe calls for about 2.5 tsp per ramekin.
Serve immediately by itself or with some berries.

BluRain

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