French in a Flash (Classic): Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée Recipe


To me, crème brûlée is elegant and sophisticated, but made from simplicity. The dessert equivalent of French chic. How can it look so good but be so easy?

Crème brûlée, literally "burnt cream," is four ingredients: eggs, cream, sugar, and vanilla. It takes ten minutes to put the custard together, and then all you have to do is check in on it a couple of times. You can make it ahead—in fact, you should. It is not hard, or expensive, or fussy. And yet, everyone marvels at it. The amber stained glass lid atop each cold, sweet, luscious creamy pot is dainty, strident, and perfect.

It just goes to show again how so much of classic French cuisine is about knowing a few secrets of preparation, not esoteric ingredients or difficult execution. This crème brûlée may be the love of my life.

Recipe Details

French in a Flash (Classic): Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée Recipe

Prep 15 mins
Cook 50 mins
Cool/Chill 4 hrs 30 mins
Total 5 hrs 35 mins
Serves 6 servings


  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream

  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

  • 1/3 cup plus 6 teaspoons granulated sugar, divided

  • 4 large egg yolks


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat the oven to 300°F. Add heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, and pod to small saucepot. Heat over medium-high heat, stirring frequently until little bubbles form around sides of the cream in the pot.

  2. Combine egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until pale yellow and yolks fall off of whisk in ribbons, about 2 minutes, scraping bowl as necessary. With mixer running on medium-low speed, slowly add hot cream mixture. Whisk until thoroughly combined.

  3. Place a folded kitchen towel (or a few paper towels) on the bottom of a roasting pan or glass baking dish large enough to hold six 6-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins on top of towel and ladel custard base evenly between them. Remove one ramekin and carefully pour hot water into baking dish until it comes 1/2 way up sides of ramekins. Replace missing ramekin.

  4. Bake until custard is set but still jiggles in center, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature without removing ramekins from water bath. Once cool, cover ramekins in plastic and refrigerate until set, at elast 4 hours, and up to overnight.

  5. To serve, sprinkle each ramekin with 1 teaspoon sugar. Brown with kitchen torch, and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
454 Calories
40g Fat
18g Carbs
7g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 454
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 40g 51%
Saturated Fat 24g 121%
Cholesterol 267mg 89%
Sodium 76mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 18g 7%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 18g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 88mg 7%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 144mg 3%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)