Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée is not only totally addictive but it’s incredibly easy to make. With just 5 ingredients, one being water, and 15 minutes, you can knock out a gorgeous dessert everyone will love.
One word. Lush! It’s Marie here again from Sugar Salt Magic and I could eat this Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée every day of the week! And twice on Sundays. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made. Legit!
Caramel lovers (and slight addicts, like myself) this is a safe place. Luscious, silky-smooth caramel pudding, with a fancy name, there are so many reasons to love this. Let me count the ways;
- Creamy caramel!
- It takes 15 minutes of effort (pinky promise)
- It looks totally fancy
- Only 5 ingredients (and one is water)
- Make ahead so perfect for a party
- Easily scalable
These have just a touch of salt to get that signature salted caramel flavour but if you aren’t into salted desserts, feel free to leave it out. They taste lovely both ways and I’d happily take both.
Ok, I could go on and on for-ev-er about this gorgeous dessert and I know you’re going to love this one.
How to make it caramel flavor
We’re making this with real made-from-scratch caramel ya’ll and don’t let that scare you because it’s super simple and I’ll show you how.
First, word of the wise – watch the caramel. I tested this recipe 4 times in one day – a fact I’m not one little bit mad about – and every single time it turned out perfect except the time I burnt the caramel. Even then, I was tempted to serve it up anyway and call it Burnt caramel crème brûlée. It was still that good.
The caramel requires just 2 ingredients – sugar and water. Place these in a saucepan over low heat and let it come to a boil and bubble away until it turns amber in color.
If you find making caramel intimidating because you’ve heard it can be temperamental, don’t. I have 5 simple rules to avoid crystallization and get perfect caramel every time.
- Use a heavy based stainless steel saucepan. It will distribute the heat the best. Don’t use a non-stick coated pan.
- The pan should be perfectly clean – any trace of fat or anything that isn’t either sugar or water in the pan and it may crystallize. Make sure it’s freshly washed and even rub a lemon around the inside before rinsing it out with water again.
- White sugar only – caramel is best made with just plain old white granulated sugar (not powdered).
- Just swirl – don’t stir. Stirring is adding something to the pan (aka the spoon) which adds another element to worry about. Just a gentle swirl of the pan to make sure it’s heating evenly is all it needs.
- Low heat – low or low to medium heat is best and don’t mess with the heat once it’s on to avoid sudden temp changes in the caramel.
That’s it! With the caramel made, which is way easier than that paragraph above sounds, it’s a matter of adding in cream and egg yolks then baking.
How to make caramel crème brûlée
For a normal crème brûlée, you just add sugar (in this instance our caramel) with cream and heat it together before adding in egg yolks. So, with caramel in hand;
- Carefully pour in the cream so that it doesn’t splash. The caramel will firm up but it’s just because you’re introducing something cold to the hot caramel. Now you can use a spoon and stir it over low heat until the caramel dissolves back into the cream.
- When it’s all dissolved again and the cream mixture starts bubbling, turn the heat off and start whisking egg yolks in a bowl. I like an electric beater for this step as it’s super quick.
- Once the egg yolks are fully mixed and much lighter in color, very slowly drizzle the hot cream into the eggs while still whisking. This is called tempering and brings the temperature of the yolks up slowly to prevent them scrambling.
- Skim the froth off the top of the custard and pour it into 4 ramekins.
- Place the ramekins into a high sided, flat bottomed baking tray or oven proof dish (the flat bottom will mean they stay level on top), add hot water into the tray to halfway up the outside of the ramekins and bake.
How long to cook crème brûlée
The amount of time it takes to cook a crème brûlée depends on the size of the dish it’s in. I used ramekins that are about 3.5 inches wide by 1.5 high. Full to the brim, they take 45 minutes to cook.
All this to say, the deeper the dish, the longer they will take to cook.
The little ramekins used here hold about half a cup + 1 tablespoon and are the perfect size … kinda. I mean, you can eat a whole one and feel content but you know you could eat a bit more too. That’s a perfect dessert, right?!!
How do you know when crème brûlée is ready?
You’ll know they’re ready when you give the pan a little nudge and they wobble a little in the middle (like jello) but they don’t look fluid. You’ll know what I mean when you give them a little shake. If it still looks like there is a pool of liquid under that surface, bake a little longer.
What does brûlée mean?
Crème Brûlée (pronounced krem broo-lay) is a fancy French name meaning burnt cream. The brûlée part actually refers to the sugar on top which is caramelized until it becomes a crunchy topping that is incredibly satisfying to crack through.
Oh Sweet Basil Must Haves for creme brulee
- Kitchen Blow Torch
I like to use a kitchen blow torch for this job and I urge you to grab one. They aren’t expensive and you can use them over and over, just make sure to get one that has a comfortable grip.
These ramekins are a favorite to use as they have actual slots to fit into. Easier to use and turns out perfect every time.
How to Ruin Your Creme Brulee
I much prefer a kitchen blow torch to using the broiler as the broiler can make the dessert too hot and turn your smooth set custard into a custard thick-shake. Albeit a delicious thick-shake, if you aren’t careful.
If you’re shopping in store, test them out but if online have a good look at how your hand will sit and where the trigger is.
Mine is fine but the trigger is on the back and I have to press it really hard with my thumb and hold it down. It gives me what I call brûlée thumb. So worth the pain though.
If you’ve got this far, firstly, thank you. I know you really want the recipe so I’ll stop banging on about how gloriously luscious, smooth and delicious this Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée is and how it glides over your tongue with a real caramel flavor (that you made from scratch, I might add) and leaves you feeling giddy.
Oh, and I won’t remind you that it took you all of 15 minutes to put together with only 5 ingredients. I certainly apologize though about the fact that you need to wait for them to cool before you eat them.
Sorry, it’s the way of the crème brûlée.
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Salted Caramel Creme Brulee
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 egg yolks, from large eggs
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar (notes)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
- 2 tablespoons superfine sugar, extra
- Preheat the oven to 320F. Place 4 ramekins (notes) in a flat bottomed baking tray with highish sides.
- Place the sugar and water in a heavy based stainless steel saucepan over low heat (notes). Heat, swirling from time to time until all the sugar is dissolved in the caramel turns amber in colour.
- Carefully pour in the cream so that it doesn't splash, and stir with a spatula. Keep stirring over low heat until the caramel melts back into the cream so you have a smooth caramel cream.
- Remove it from the heat and stir in the salt if using.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until very pale.
- Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks while gently whisking at the same time. Make sure to pour slowly so the sudden heat doesn't scramble the eggs.
- Once fully mixed, strain the mixture into a pouring jug then pour evenly into the ramekins.
- Now pour hot (not boiling) water into the baking dish, around the outside of the ramekins to halfway up their sides.
- Bake for 45 minutes or until the centres look just set (notes).
- Very carefully lift out the ramekins out of the baking dish and set aside to cool for about 1/2 an hour before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the fridge to chill completely (at least 2 hours).
- When ready to serve, sprinkle the extra sugar evenly over the top of the creme brulees. Give them a gentle shake to disperse the sugar evenly then use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelise the sugar on top.
- Superfine sugar (not powdered) is best as it will dissolve quicker. If you can only use regular white granulated sugar, just keep the heat a little lower so that it is mostly dissolved before it starts to bubble.
- The ramekins used in these photos are 3.5" wide by 1.5" deep and have a volume of about 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon. The deeper the ramekins, the longer they will take to cook.
- You'll know they are done, when you give them a gentle shake and they have a slight wobble in the centre but not like there is liquid under the surface - think jello.
- Creme Brûlée custards can be made up to 2 days in advance. Add the sugar topping just before serving.