Monday, February 15, 2010

Butterscotch Creme Brulee for Two

I can’t begin to tell you how enamored I remain of my crème brulee torch.This is the fifth or sixth batch of crème brulee I’ve made since Christmas. I’ve made chocolate crème brulees several times, but I’m still perfecting that recipe – the first batch tasted like heaven but was a bit too firm; in the second batch, I erred too far the other way and ended up with something too pudding-y – but neither experiment was at all taxing to consume. They’re just not ready for prime time, as it were.

I love butterscotch flavors and had been hankering to make butterscotch crème brulees for a while, but fear of burnt sugar put me off. Don’t let it dissuade you! As long as you use a modest burner heat and keep the half and half ready to be dumped in to the caramelized sugar at just the right instant, this should come out perfectly. I found the ease of this recipe rather ironic, as I had been expecting to be much more fussy than chocolate crème brulee.
This is what they looked like before the sugar shell, in lovely natural light 

I used my own crème brulee for two recipe as a template. I’m not sure why, but I felt like this gave me smaller crème brulees – or maybe I just divided the custard less evenly between the ramekins this time. But really, a little crème brulee goes a long way, and these were the perfect finale to a nice meal of roasted tomato soup.

By the by, I will be on vacation abroad when you read this, so if I'm unresponsive to comments, it's because I expect to spend very little time on the internet.  I'll be in France and Germany.  More on that will follow through the wonder that is automatic posting.

Butterscotch Crème Brulee

¾ cup half and half (or you could use light cream for a more custardy texture)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (I used dark brown)
¼ fresh vanilla bean (or maybe half a teaspoon or so of extract)
1 teaspoon butter (salted or unsalted – shouldn’t make a difference)
2 large egg yolks
¼ teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons turbinado sugar (for the crunchy shell)

Preheat oven to 300. Cut vanilla bean and scrape out seeds.

In a small saucepan or skillet, melt the butter. Add brown sugar and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar is all melted. Immediately stir in the half and half. The sugar mixture will seize when you do this, but it will melt. Bring half and half to a boil, stirring constantly; as soon as it boils, remove from heat and let cool for several minutes. Add vanilla seeds and salt (prior to cooling).

Bring water to boil and line a small baking pan with a dish towel. You are doing this because one bakes crème brulée in a bain marie.

Whisk egg yolks into the liquid ingredients. Pour mix evenly into ramekins.

Set the ramekins atop the dish towel in the baking pan, and pour boiling water in pan until it reaches 2/3 the height of the ramekins. It sounds more fussy than it is – if you have a tea kettle and remember to set your water on, preparing the bain marie will take you 30 seconds, tops.

Bake at 300 for 35-40 minutes or until just barely set in middle.

Cool at room temperature for 1-2 hours, then cover with plastic wrap (with the plastic wrap placed directly atop the surface of the crème brulees) and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or until completely set.

At least half an hour before serving, remove from refrigerator. Gently blot the moisture from the tops of the crème brulées with paper towels. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of turbinado sugar evenly over each crème brulée – this will give you a pretty substantial sugar shell; you can use 1 teaspoon or so if the shell’s not your thing. Use a crème brulée torch (recommended) or the broiler of your toaster oven (not so recommended) to melt and brown the sugar.

Return to refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour to re-firm the custard, then serve. Don’t wait much longer than this, as the sugar topping will soften if left too long.

Printable recipe here.


  1. Becky, I love butterscotch this is another of your recipes that I will have to try... and that it's for two doesn't make it so awfully wicked!

  2. They were pretty small, too, so these really didn't feel so decadent. The flavors were just heaven. I think I say that a lot, but it's true! :)