Perfect Crème Brûlée

An elegant, always delightful, classic dessert. Perfect for holiday dinners or dessert tables. Easier than you think, and perfect to make ahead. The last-minute scorching of the sugar is festive and interactive, so no need to stress about that final touch. 

I do have the perfect recipe, given to me by the talented Brett Leitch, who taught it to me at George Brown. This recipe is in metric because it’s precise, but I’ve done my best to translate it to Imperial (American, not British) below. 

The thing most people don’t realise about crème brûlée is that it’s not about the recipe or even the freshness and purity of the ingredients: it’s about the technique. Happily, that’s a simple one. 

Get a sous vide machine. Already have one? You’re about to love it even more. Don’t have one? Don’t wait for Christmas. Get thee hence to a store (or a keyboard) and get yourself one! 

Making these delightful little custards with the sous vide device will add a lightness and silkiness that is to die for. You can bake these in a water bath in the oven and they will be perfectly nice. But for an incredible mouthfeel, you know what to do.

The other secret to to buy a fine mesh strainer. No tiny globules of cooked egg for us, please! Melting, smooth, flawless texture. 

Perfect on their own, or with a Christmas cookie, or a mini-poached pear, or a fruit compote, or just a glass of dessert wine. 

Perfect Crème Brûlée

A sous vide version of this French classic that is sure to turn out flawlessly every time.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Keyword: #cremebrulee, #frenchcuisine, #frenchcustard


  • Sous vide device.
  • 8-10 mason jars, 125 mL
  • Blow torch


  • 160 grams egg yolks (approximately 11)
  • 90 grams sugar
  • 3 grams salt
  • 600 mL 35% whipping cream
  • Sugar, as needed
  • 1 piece vanilla piece


  • Heat water bath to 80°C (176°F).
  • Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt.
  • Heat cream slowly in a small pot. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla pod into the cream, whisking gently. Heat to 70°C (158°F).
  • Slowly pour cream into egg mixture, bit by bit, whisking all the time, until it's fully incorporated.
  • Strain mixture into a large measuring cup using a fine mesh strainer.
  • Pour slowly into mason jars, stopping approximately 1 centimetre from the top.
  • Seal jars fingertip tight. (This means just until one big turn seals it gently. Do not twist it so tight that no bubbles can escape.)
  • Using tongs, carefully place in water. Cook for one hour.
  • Place in an ice bath until fully chilled. At this point, they will keep for several days before finishing.
  • Remove the lid and sprinkle the top with sugar until a thin layer. Aim the flame from your blow torch at the centre and move it around the the edges. Swirl the runny sugar if need be to catch all the sugar patches. Continue until sugar is deeply caramelized. Let topping set for a minute before garnishing with fruit. Serve right away.


Don’t be tempted to use vanilla extract in place of the vanilla bean. The liquid will affect the texture of the custard. Use non-liquid flavourings like lemon or orange zest, a cinnamon stick, espresso powder, or microground tea. 
If using lemon zest, use as fine of a grater as possible, or try blitzing it with the sugar in a mini-food processor first. Or add strips of zest to the cream, then pick them out. Let them sit in the cream for 10 minutes and re-heat. 
Fat-soluble chocolate flavourings could work as well. 
Make sure your mason jars are clean and sterile. 
The beauty of a long, slow cook like sous vide is that times ate a little more forgiving than an oven-baked custard. If you need another few minutes, no harm will come to your custards. 
Imperial measurements: at your own risk. Use metric form perfect consistency.
11 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, 2 1/8 cups cream, 2 big pinches of salt. 
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Tea sommelier, love to cook AND bake. Soups are my go-to comfort food and I rely on an excess of garlic in almost everything but dessert. I review Canadian cookbooks for those who want to know which to gift or buy for your own collection.

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