Crème Brûlée

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Six


Appears in

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

Craig Claiborne’s Kitchen Primer

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1969

  • About

One of the most universally admired desserts in the world is the crème brûlée, or “burnt cream,” of French cooking. It is unbelievably easy to make, and this is the simplest of recipes.


  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks (save the whites for some other use)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ cup golden light-brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

  2. Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan and place it over low heat, preferably on an asbestos pad or “Flame Tamer.” Add the granulated sugar and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the cream is quite hot. Do not boil.

  3. Place the yolks in a mixing bowl and beat them with a wire whisk, electric beater, or rotary beater until they are light in color. Gradually add the hot cream while stirring but not beating with the whisk. Stir in the vanilla extract.

  4. Place a strainer over a 1-quart baking dish (a 1-quart soufflé dish may be used) and strain the cream mixture into the dish. Set the baking dish in another pan into which pour one inch of hot water; do it very gradually to prevent spilling. Carefully place the pan and baking dish in the oven and bake for about one hour or until a silver knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean. Do not over bake. Remove the custard from the oven and let stand at room temperature until cool. Place the custard in the refrigerator and chill thoroughly.

  5. Just before serving, sprinkle the brown sugar over the surface of the custard. Set the baking dish on a bed of cracked ice and place it under a heated broiler. Do this quickly and remove the dish from the broiler as soon as the sugar is brown and melted. Serve immediately or chill it again and serve cold.