Torch caramelizing sugar on a ramekin with set creme brûlée with a matte silver spoon in the foreground.
Photography, Art Direction & Food Styling: Anthony Contrino

I almost always order a crème brûlée when I see it on a dessert menu.  If you’re looking for a restaurant-quality dessert that’s relatively easy to execute at home, this is it.  If you don’t have a torch, you can caramelize the sugar under a broiler, but be sure to keep a watchful eye!

Crème Brûlée

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Inactive Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6


  • ½ cup sugar, plus more for caramelizing
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • 2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
  • ¼ teaspoon Mexican vanilla
  • 6 large egg yolks, room temperature


  • Preheat the oven to 300 degrees and bring a large pot of water (or a tea kettle) to a boil.
  • Lay a kitchen towel in the bottom of a roasting pan and arrange six 4-5 ounce ramekins on the towel, making sure they are level.
  • Add the sugar to a small saucepan.
  • Using a paring knife, scrape the vanilla bean seeds out of the pod and add to the saucepan.
  • Using your hands, massage the vanilla into the sugar to help separate the seeds.
  • Add 1 cup of the cream, salt, vanilla extract and the vanilla bean halves to the saucepan and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar
  • Remove from the heat and set aside; steep for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk the yolks and remaining cream until well combined.
  • While whisking, add the steeped cream mixture to the egg mixture.
  • Using a fine masher strainer, strain the mixture into a 2 cup measuring cup.
  • Divide the mixture evenly amongst the ramekins, filling each to just below the rim.
  • Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and pour the boiling water into the pan to ⅔ the height of the ramekins being careful not to get any water into the ramekins.
  • Bake until the centers reach 170-175 degrees on an instant read thermometer, or until just barely set, for about 40 minutes. (They should jiggle when you move them, but not slosh.)
  • Using a fish spatula, transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack and let sit for 2 hours, until room temperature.
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic doesn’t touch the surface of the custard, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours before serving.
  • Just prior to serving, remove plastic and gently blot any condensation with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle each with an even, thin layer of sugar.
  • Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar; serve immediately.


Using a tea towel will help the ramekins from sliding which will help the custard from sloshing!
Course: Dessert
Author: Anthony Michael Contrino