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Crème brûlées

A crackling top, a silky custard middle. You can't go wrong with this French classic.

By Chris Benedet
  • Serves 6
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The pleasures of cracking the top of a crème brûlée are well documented (with thanks to Amélie). There's lots to be said about that silky vanilla-custard middle too. When it comes to this French classic dessert, you really can't go wrong.


  • 1 litre pouring cream
  • 125 gm caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 12 egg yolks
  • A mixture of half raw sugar and half caster, for topping


  • 1
    Preheat the oven to 120C. Combine the cream, caster sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to just below a simmer, stirring at first to ensure the sugar dissolves. Cool slightly (10 minutes).
  • 2
    Remove vanilla bean and slowly pour the cooled cream mixture over the egg yolks, whisking to combine; try to avoid overwhisking and creating lots of air bubbles.
  • 3
    Place 6 ramekins (15cm-diameter and 3cm-deep) in an oven pan lined with a tea towel, half-fill the ramekins with the cream mixture and place the pan on an oven shelf. Finish filling the ramekins to a few millimetres from the tops, then pour hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until set with a slight wobble in the centre (35-40 minutes).
  • 4
    Remove the brûlées from the pan and let them cool at room temperature for a couple of hours.
  • 5
    Evenly coat the top of the brûlées with the sugar mixture and caramelise lightly and evenly with a blowtorch until golden brown. Serve with crisp puff pastry or your choice of biscuits.