Crème brûlée, or "burnt cream," is a simple dessert of rich vanilla custard beneath a glassy toffee crust.
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9 egg yolks
½ cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour
2½ cups thick cream
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways, or ¼ teaspoon vanilla essence
Directions Prep:9hr › Cook:1hr › Ready in:10hr
Put the egg yolks in a mixing bowl with a third of the sugar. Add the cornﬂour and whisk very lightly together.
Pour the cream into a saucepan, add the vanilla pod, if using, and heat gently until almost boiling. Slowly pour the cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.
Place the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water, and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. Remove from heat. If using vanilla extract, stir it in now. As soon as the custard thickens, strain it through a sieve into a shallow, ﬂameproof serving dish about 20 cm in diameter and 3 cm deep (or divide the mixture among 6 individual flameproof ramekins). Stand the custard aside until completely cool, then cover the dish and refrigerate overnight.
About 2 hours before serving, take the custard out of the refrigerator and sprinkle the remaining sugar evenly over the surface to form a thin, even layer, adding a little extra sugar, if necessary. Leave to stand for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the grill to high. Cook the custard under the hot grill until the sugar melts and turns a golden caramel colour. To ensure even browning, carefully turn the dish around as the sugar melts and becomes like thin toffee. Remove the dish from the grill and set it aside to cool, then chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.