Hard candy top with a silky creamy interior, Ina Garten Creme Brulee is still a beloved classic and the Barefoot Contessa makes it easy for us to recreate!
When my eldest was a baby, I spent a lot of time nursing and burping him while watching the Food Channel. I quickly found my favorite chefs and learned how to cook from the comfort of my couch.
As the kids got older, I got more adventurous in the kitchen. And one chef who helped me do this is Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. There are just some chefs that get it right every time, and Ina Garten is one of them.
Why this recipe is so awesome
Creme brulee is a French dessert. It’s actually spelled Crème Brûlée, with all the accents. But here in the US, we tend to drop those pesky accents and just spell it without them.
It is a rich dessert made with eggs, heavy cream and sugar. The custard base is flavored with vanilla and baked in individually sized ramekins. Each ramekin of creme brulee is topped with a hardened caramelized sugar.
Although this recipe was first discovered over 300 years ago, it became popular in the 1980’s. This French recipe became a symbol of the finest and most decadent dessert you could offer your guests.
I suppose Ina Garten’s appeal to the public is that she is a self-taught cook and not a classically trained chef. So if Ina can master the infamous creme brulee, so can anyone, including me. This recipe is from Ina Garten’s cookbook: Barefoot in Paris.
And you know what? It really isn’t that difficult to make!
Ingredients you need
- Eggs: Creme brulee is a custard and it requires eggs and additional egg yolks.
- Granulated sugar: Regular sugar is used to sweeten the custard, as well as create the candy shell top of the creme brulee.
- Heavy cream: You need the full fat heavy whipping cream for this recipe.
- Vanilla extract: You can use extract or scrape out a vanilla bean.
- Grand Marnier: This is optional, but Ina Garten adds some liqueur to her recipe.
1. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or hand mixer, combine eggs and sugar on low speed until combined.
2. Scald heavy cream in a small saucepan until very hot to touch, but not boiling (to prevent curdling). The key to not curdling the heavy cream is watch over it while you heat it up.
You bring the cream right up and before it starts to boil. You have lots of visual cues to help you in this stage, lots of steam and the beginning of small bubbles at the rim of the cream.
3. Once the heavy cream is scalding hot, you add the egg and sugar mixture. To insure that the eggs don’t curdle from touching the hot cream, you need to temper them. Pour a tiny bit of hot cream and whisk it into the egg mixture. This helps heat the eggs up slowly.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the hot cream to the egg mixture. Mix in vanilla and Grand Marnier. Pour into 6 8-ounce ramekins until almost full.
Place ramekins in a large roasting pan and add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins.
4. Bake at 300ºF until custards are just set in center, about 35-40 minutes. Remove custards from roasting pan and allow to cool to room temperature. Chill custards until firm, about 1 hour.
5. When ready to serve, sprinkle remaining sugar over each custard in each ramekin.
6. Using a kitchen torch, melt sugar until deep amber. You can bring the torch closer to the sugar if it isn’t melting or browning, but be sure not to hold it too close or your might burn the sugar and blacken it. You want the surface to be golden brown and amber.
If you do not have a kitchen torch you can also brown the sugar using your oven broiler. Simply place the ramekins on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes. Again, keep an eye on the creme brulee and make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove the ramekins when the topping is browned and golden.
7. Refrigerate 15 minutes to allow sugar to harden. They can be made 1 hour ahead. Keep chilled.
Recipe tips and FAQs
Creme Brulee can appear to be very intimidating, but I found it to be extremely easy to make. Scalding the cream means you have to watch it and not walk away, because you don’t want it to boil and curdle. It’s like watching your kids and making sure they don’t break your mother-in-law’s fragile crystals!
I found the hardest part of making this dish was to keep the water from the roasting pan from dripping into my full ramekins as I was placing it in the oven! I think next time I will place the water filled pan in the oven first and then place the ramekins directly in afterwards.
Love Ina’s recipes like I do? Here are some of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes:
- Ina Garten Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms
- Ina Garten Oatmeal Cookies with Raisin and Pecans
- Ina Garten Baked Shrimp Scampi
- Ina Garten Grilled Shrimp Kabob
- Ina Garten Chicken Caesar Club Sandwich
- Ina Garten Shrimp Bisque
- Ina Garten Coconut Jam Thumbprint Cookies
Creme brulee is a magnificent and elegant dessert on its own and does not require much more fuss upon serving. I like to top creme brulee with fresh berries that are in season. It adds a pop of color and the tart berries make a nice contrast with the sweet custard.
Creme brulee, is famous for its hardened caramelized sugar topping. This step is added right before serving. So if you are serving this dessert at a dinner party, you can bake and chill the dessert a few days before the event. With all of the sugar choices out there, the best sugar to use make the caramelized top of your creme brulee is regular ‘ole granulated sugar. Sprinkle a generous amount over the top of each ramekin then use a kitchen torch to gently heat it up to melt and brown.
If you do not have a kitchen torch you can also brown the sugar for your creme brulee top by using your oven broiler. Simply place the sugar covered ramekins on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes. Keep an eye on the creme brulee and make sure it doesn’t burn. Remove the ramekins when the topping is browned and golden.
- 1 extra large egg
- 4 extra large egg yolks
- ½ cup plus 1 TBS granulated sugar
- 3 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 TBS Grand Marnier
- Preheat oven to 300ºF.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix eggs and ½ cup sugar on low speed until combined.
- Scald heavy cream in a small saucepan until very hot to touch, but not boiling (to prevent curdling).
- With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the hot cream to the egg mixture.
- Mix in vanilla and Grand Marnier.
- Pour into 6 8 oz ramekins until almost full.
- Place ramekins in a large roasting pan and add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up the sides of ramekins.
- Bake until custards are just set in center, about 35-40 minutes.
- Remove custards from roasting pan and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Chill custards until firm, about 1 hour.
- When ready to serve, sprinkle remaining sugar over each custard in each ramekin.
- Using a kitchen torch, melt sugar until deep amber. You can also use the broiler. Place ramekins on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with sugar and melt directly under broiler until deep amber.
- Refrigerate 15 minutes to allow sugar to harden. They can be made 1 hour ahead. Keep chilled.
Serving Suggestions: Serve alone or with fresh berries.
Serving Size:1 dish
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 342Total Fat: 26.8gSaturated Fat: 15.4gCholesterol: 297mgSodium: 236mgCarbohydrates: 20.4gFiber: 0.0gSugar: 20.2gProtein: 4.7g
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