July 14th, 2011
03:30 PM ET
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Liberté, égalité, fraternité, brûlée!

Celebrate Bastille Day, the beginning of the French Revolution, with the classic dessert: crème brûlée.

The accent marks in the name alone can be intimidating to the non-classically trained home cook, but a quick look at the recipe reveals it's nothing more than some homey staples - vanilla, sugar, eggs, cream and salt - allied with a little know-how.

Grab a torch (or befriend your oven's broiler), don your "other" red, white and blue, and follow the lead of Chef Rogers Powell of the French Culinary Institute. It’s so good, heads will roll.

Crème brûlée
Serves 4


  • 500 milliliters (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • Pinch of salt
  • 50 grams (2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • Granulated, brown, or turbinado sugar, for finishing

Cooking Directions

  1. Bring the cream, vanilla bean, salt, and half the sugar to a boil.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until pale and thick.
  3. Temper the egg mixture with some of the hot cream mixture. Return the tempered mixture to the remaining hot cream and combine thoroughly.
  4. Strain the mixture through a chinois into a bowl. Skim the foam from the surface.
  5. Place four 1/2- to 3/4-inch, fluted, shallow, crème brûlée molds in a hotel pan.
  6. Dividing the custard equally among the molds, carefully fill each mold with the custard to just under the rim.
  7. Fill the hotel pan with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the molds and cover it with a sheet pan or foil.
  8. Bake the crèmes at 300°F (149°C) for approximately 35 to 40 minutes, or until they are softly set and the centers jiggle slightly.
  9. Using a metal spatula, remove the custards from the water and transfer to a sheet pan. When the baked custards have cooled to room temperature, chill them in the refrigerator until cold, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day in advance. The custards will firm as they cool.
  10. Spread a thin layer of dried brown sugar, granulated sugar, or turbinado sugar over the top of each chilled custard. Caramelize (brûlez) the sugar under a salamander or broiler, or using a propane torch for a few seconds until the sugar melts and forms a glassy crust.
  11. Serve immediately.

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Filed under: Bastille Day • Bite • Cuisines • French • Holidays • Make • Recipes • Step-by-Step

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. robi-cool


    July 16, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  2. Chef Sun

    Many of the world's best dishes are made with very simple ingredients. It's what you do with them that counts.

    July 16, 2011 at 7:43 am |
  3. steve

    Sometimes I wish people would think more before writing articles. Admittedly the name looks French, but creme brulee was actually first created in England. So you might as well celebrate French independence by going to your local English pub.

    July 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
    • Amelie

      Actually, the first published recipe for creme brulee was published by François Massialot - a Frenchman.

      July 15, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  4. MA

    Vive la France!

    July 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  5. jillmarie

    I agree- it's delicious and splurge-worthy. I had no idea it contained such simple ingredients!

    July 14, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  6. JBJingles

    Oh YUM! This is, hands down, my favorit dessert!!

    July 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Kate

      OH YEAH!

      July 14, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  7. aubrie

    Happy Bastille Day!!!!!! My son is over there now in a study abroad program.... I hope he's enjoying some creme brulee today.

    July 14, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • Valerie

      Joyeux Quatorze Juillet !

      July 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  8. AleeD

    At Wolfgang Puck's, I had the opportunity to indulge in a trio of brulee's: chocolate, creme & caramel. While they were delicious, I couldn't help but feel like I just eating fancy pudding. To each his own.

    July 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Valerie

      Well, "fancy pudding" is really all it is, that's why! LOL! I mean seriously...eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla and salt? Not exactly the world's most expensive ingredients you know...........

      July 14, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
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