Lemon & Vanilla Crème Brûlée with Fresh Mango Topping

Lemon & Vanilla Cr\u00e8me Br\u00fbl\u00e9e with Fresh Mango Topping

[Photograph: Myles New]

It's natural to associate crème brûlée with overindulgence. A Lighter Way to Bake uses light cream and lemon to craft a lighter version. It's still sweet and creamy, but not as heavy. A spoonful of chopped mango makes it even fresher.

Why this recipe works:

  • The hallmarks of a good crème brûlée are all present, including the crunchy sugar topping and the soft cream underneath.
  • The touch of lemon in the filling and the fresh mango topping cut through the cream to make this a very warm weather-appropriate dessert.

Excerpted from A Lighter Way to Bake by Lorraine Pascale. Copyright 2014 Lorraine Pascale. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

  • Yield:6 servings
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:1 hour 30 minutes, including cooling


  • Filling
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 11/2 cups low-fat milk
  • Seeds of 2 vanilla beans or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal
  • Finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • Brûlée topping
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 ounces prepared mango chunks, or 1 small mango, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (or smaller if you can!)


  1. 1.

    Preheat the oven to 300°F. Arrange six 1/2-cup ramekins in a deep-sided roasting pan and set aside. My ramekins are deep (1 3/4 inches, to be precise) rather than shallow. Crème brûlées cooked in shallow but wide ramekins will require a shorter cooking time. Pop the kettle on to boil.

  2. 2.

    Put the cream, milk and vanilla seeds (and bean) or extract into a small pan and set over medium heat until the mixture is just starting to steam.

  3. 3.

    Meanwhile, put the eggs, sugar, cornmeal and lemon zest into a large bowl and mix them together well.

  4. 4.

    Once the milk mixture is steaming, stir a little bit of it into the egg mixture. Then gradually add the remaining milk mixture while stirring all the time. Divide the brûlée mixture evenly between the ramekins and pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come a third of the way up their sides. This will act as a temperature control and will stop the crème brûlées from getting too hot. If the eggs get too hot, they will curdle rather than cook into a smooth and creamy custard.

  5. 5.

    Carefully transfer them to the oven to bake for about 30 minutes or until the mixture has almost set, but still has a little wobble in the center. The wobble is so important, for if they are cooked beyond this, the mixture inside may go grainy (but will still taste nice!).

  6. 6.

    Once the custards reach this stage, remove them from the oven and carefully lift the ramekins out of the roasting pan to cool down completely. Once cool, arrange them on a tray, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or until needed. You can prepare them to this stage and leave them in the fridge for several hours if you like. These are great for when guests are coming and you want to be super prepared in advance!

  7. 7.

    Once the crème brûlées are nice and cold, sprinkle the tablespoon of sugar evenly among the tops in an even layer. Use a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar, passing it back and forth across the tops until the crème brûlées go a good golden brown. Top each with about 1 tablespoon of mango chunks just in the center, and serve.