Broiled Crème Brûlée

Broiled Crème Brûlée

Normally, a small propane kitchen torch is used to create the coveted caramelized sugar topping that makes crème brûlée so popular. The broiling method described here is a nice alternative for those who either don’t have access to a kitchen torch or are reluctant to use one for safety reasons.

The goal with crème brûlée is to create a warm, crunchy top layer complemented by a cooler, refreshing layer of chilled custard at the bottom. With this in mind, this recipe was tested in two different sized ramekins: A deeper 6-oz. version and a wider, shallower 5-oz option.

The result: The broiling method described here works better with the deeper 6-oz. ramekin because the heat from the broiler didn’t affect the temperature and consistency of the custard throughout as much as it did in the shallower version. The shallower dish is ideal if using a kitchen torch, however.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 50-60 minutes*
Serves: 4

*IMPORTANT NOTE: Cook time will vary depending on the size and depth of ramekins used. Not surprisingly, shallower ramekins require less time. Regardless, check after 25-30 minutes and adjust final cook time accordingly.

Broiled Crème Brûlée Ingredients:

6 cups water
2 c. heavy cream
1 whole vanilla bean
1/8 t. salt
6 large egg yolks
½ c. granulated sugar
¼ c. coarse sugar
Fresh raspberries and mint sprigs, for garnish

Tip: It is easier to separate eggs when they are still chilled. Reserve the leftover egg whites for another use after separating.


1. Place top oven rack in the center position and pre-heat oven to 325°F. Add water to a tea kettle or pan set over high heat and place 4 6-oz. ramekins in a large high-sided baking dish. Set aside.

2. Pour cream into a heavy-bottomed pan. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife. Scrape out the pulp with the tip of the knife and add it, along with the remaining whole vanilla bean, to the cream. Add the salt and stir to combine. Set aside.

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3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the granulated sugar until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

4. Set the cream over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer. When the cream reaches 180°F on an instant-read thermometer, remove from heat. Carefully remove the vanilla bean pod from the pan and either reserve for another use or discard.

5. Temper the eggs by adding a couple tablespoons of the warm cream mixture to the mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then slowly whisk the tempered egg mixture into the cream until thoroughly combined.

6. Remove the kettle from heat and carefully pour the hot water into the baking dish around the ramekins to create a water bath. Do not allow any water to splash inside the ramekins while doing so.

7. Divide the egg mixture among the ramekins, without overfilling. Place the baking dish in the pre-heated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the custard just starts to set. (It should still be a little loose and wobbly in the center).

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8. Remove the baking pan from the oven and cool completely, then cover and refrigerate for at least four hours, but preferably overnight.

9. Just before serving, adjust the top oven rack to the first or second position, leaving 3-4” between the broiler and the top of the ramekins, once added. Set the broiler to high.

10. Sprinkle the top of each ramekin with an even layer of the coarse sugar and place under the broiler for 4-5 minutes, or just until the sugar is nicely browned and caramelized. Watch carefully to prevent burning.

11. Remove from oven and carefully transfer the ramekins to a baking rack to cool for several minutes. Serve immediately topped with some fresh raspberries and sprigs of mint, if desired. Enjoy!

And don’t forget to serve “Broiled Crème Brûlée” on National Crème Brûlée Day!


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