No Torch Creme Brulee

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Most dessert isn’t exactly health food.  But sometimes a girl’s got to indulge.  So when I learned you can make crème brulee without a torch, I couldn’t resist.  At least my no torch crème brulee is organic.  And it’s under 300 calories!  

No torch creme brulee

No torch creme brulee

I have a new food philosophy.  Eat great healthy local food.  Most of the time.  Then slip in a not-too-unhealthy dessert with kickass flavor. 

Kind of like working hard all week then doing a late Saturday night out or a mid-week movie.  

No torch creme brulee trio

No torch creme brulee trio

According to Wikipedia, crème brulee is “a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel’  Dating back to around 1691, it is typically flavored with vanilla, but can be made in other flavors.  I’ve even seen restaurants do trios in different flavors.  Yes, please! 

No Torch Creme Brulee Served

No Torch Creme Brulee Served

What makes crème brulee distinctive is its caramel-y top glaze.  This is traditionally made by spreading sugar on top of baked custard, then melting it with a blow torch.  But, if you don’t mind a bit of homespun imperfection, you can also do this under a broiler (you will need broiler safe dishes—which many real crème brulee dishes are).  And it’s easy! 

Heat cream, sugar & vanilla bean, then mix with egg yolks

Heat cream, sugar & vanilla bean, then mix with egg yolks

Strain, then pour into ramekins.

Strain, then pour into ramekins.

Bake in a water bath

Bake in a water bath–add water AFTER pan is in oven

Carefully remove from water bath

Carefully remove from water bath (don’t slosh)

Cool, then top with brown sugar

Cool, then top with brown sugar

Broil until lightly golden

Broil until lightly golden

Now baked custard has a bit of a reputation.  So I expected making no torch crème brulee to be touchy—make a mistake and you have scrambled eggs… or watery goo.   But I did a lot of variations (as in how many times can you make the same dish in less than a month) and nothing failed.  

Sugar trial: Brown sugar, evaporated cane sugar, sanding sugar

Sugar trial: Brown sugar, evaporated cane sugar, sanding sugar

Some of the options I tried:

  • I used anywhere from 2-6 egg yolks per 2 cups of cream. My personal preference is to go light on the yolks for a creamier taste and lighter texture, but those who like it eggier (or are using liquid ingredients other than full fat whipping cream) may want to go the full 6.
  • Tried with full cream and 2 egg yolks, 25% skim milk with 4 egg yolks. Yum.  And yum.
  • I tried baking it in the typical water bath at 325 as well as a convection bake at 200. I have a slight preference for the water bath, but could go either way.
  • Tried glazing with melted sugar caramel, sanding sugar, organic cane sugar, organic cane sugar ground up fine, brown sugar. For the broiler, I prefer brown sugar.
  • Tried flavored with lavender and Irish Coffee. Mmmm all around! (And stay tuned for St Patrick’s day!) 

    No torch creme brulee, served

    No torch creme brulee, served

Just in case you happen to be suffering from No Torch Crème Brulee OCD, like me, I found a forum with everything you ever wanted to know about crème brulee. 

Which is good, ‘cause now that I know how easy this is, I’ll be making… Chai Crème Brulee, Pumpkin Crème Brulee, Lavender Crème Brulee … 

Creme Brulee--Ready!

Creme Brulee–Ready!

No Torch Creme Brulee
Serves 6
Creme brulee is easy and delicious--and you don't need a torch! What have I been missing!
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287 calories
21 g
190 g
21 g
4 g
13 g
110 g
36 g
19 g
0 g
8 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
110g
Servings
6
Amount Per Serving
Calories 287
Calories from Fat 190
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g
33%
Saturated Fat 13g
63%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Cholesterol 190mg
63%
Sodium 36mg
2%
Total Carbohydrates 21g
7%
Dietary Fiber 0g
0%
Sugars 19g
Protein 4g
Vitamin A
16%
Vitamin C
1%
Calcium
9%
Iron
2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 4 egg yolks (see note 1)
  2. 1 1/2 cups whipping cream (see note 2)
  3. 1/2 cup skim milk
  4. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  6. 9 teaspoons brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325°F. In 13x9-inch pan, place 6 (4-oz) ceramic ramekins.
  2. Cut vanilla bean in half, then scrape out seeds. Place seeds and pod in a small saucepan with cream, skim milk and sugar and heat until just below boiling, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and let cool until just slightly warm. (If using vanilla extract, you can heat to a lower temperature, just until sugar is dissolved.)
  3. In small bowl, slightly beat egg yolks with wire whisk. Add cream mixture and stir until well blended. Strain into a pouring vessel. Pour cream mixture evenly into ramekins.
  4. Carefully place pan with ramekins in oven. While in oven, pour enough boiling water into pan, being careful not to splash water into ramekins, until water covers two-thirds of the height of the ramekins.
  5. Bake 25 to 40 minutes until the center of the custard is set but jiggly (it’s okay if sides are jiggly too as long as the center is set)
  6. Carefully transfer ramekins individually to cooling rack—I found that lifting with a hamburger turner worked best. Refrigerate until chilled, approximately 2 hours.
  7. Sprinkle about 1 1/2 teaspoons of brown sugar over each chilled custard. Place under pre-heated broiler to brown. Watch like a hawk to avoid burning (or fire).
  8. Refrigerate until rechilled, 1-2 hours
Notes
  1. 1. If you like an "eggier" custard, you can use 6 egg yolks.
  2. 2. If I don't have milk, I omit it and use 2 cups of whipping cream with 3 egg yolks. If halving the recipe, I have had success with 1 egg yolk and 1 cup of whipping cream (but I wouldn't go that low using anything less than full heavy cream).
  3. This can be made in the morning for a same-day dinner.
beta
calories
287
fat
21g
protein
4g
carbs
21g
more
Art of Natural Living http://artofnaturalliving.com/
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11 Comments

  1. Now aJim doesn’t have to go to the garage and get his blowtorch!

  2. Looks yummy. And I agree with your philosophy – healthy most of the time means no guilt for the occasional treat!

  3. I like the idea of being able to indulge on desserts…and yes, your sugar coat turned very nice without the torch, which by the way I am always nervous when using it…
    Have a great week Inger 🙂

  4. Crème brûlée is one of my all-time favorites! Love both the torch & broiler methods, too. My favorite for the moment is lavender-honey. But almost any flavor will turn my head!

  5. Pingback: Irish Coffee Creme Brulee - Art of Natural Living

  6. These are beautiful, Inger! I do love Creme Brûlée…and I will always make room for one! The Lavender Creme Brûlée sounds lovely!

    • Isn’t it great how these work even after a big meal, Kathy! One of these days I will post the lavender version. After I slide in a few healthy recipes ;-)!

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