Tips & tricks for making the perfect crème brûlée
Desserts often have pride of place in December and January, the sweetest months of the year. So what can you put on your menu that fits in perfectly with the cosiness of winter? Crème brûlée is a pretty good option! Or Crema Catalana, for fans of southern Mediterranean cuisine. Like other classics, this is a delicious dessert... if it’s made properly. What do you need to do to make sure you get a smooth crème rather than an omelette? We asked a crème brûlée expert: Sofie Vanderhasselt, culinary advisor at Debic.
Making a crème brûlée from scratch isn’t all that difficult. But things don't always go to plan. Culinary advisor Sofie from Debic presents the ultimate solution: preparing crème brûlée with Debic Crème Brûlée Bourbon.
Crème brûlée: the right temperature
1: When you’re making crème brûlée yourself, you need to pay particular attention to the temperature.
When preparing the base, eggs, sugar, cream and milk have to be heated in the right way, so that everything binds together nicely. If the mixture is too hot, the eggs won’t bind – they’ll congeal. And then you’re left with an omelette.
2: Once the base is done, the crème brûlée has to be baked. Traditionally, the crème brûlée is poured into ramekin dishes and baked in an oven in a bain-marie. To do this, you carefully place the dishes in a larger bowl filled with water, which you then put in the oven. The risk, however, is that water overflows into your crème brûlée dishes.
3: The crème brûlée then needs to be cooked at a relatively low temperature (90°C) in the oven for one hour. This means that you can’t use the oven for anything else in the meantime, which isn’t very efficient. If you cook the crème brûlée for too long or at a too high a temperature, you’ll end up with a sweet omelette rather than a smooth crème.
Debic Crème Brûlée: the ultimate solution
Especially when catering for larger groups – and/or if you only have a small kitchen team – you’re better off not taking any risks when it comes to desserts. There is an easier way. Fancy skipping the three abovementioned steps in your preparation? Then choose Debic Crème Brûlée Bourbon.
A favourite from the Debic Desserts series with a classic recipe, high-quality ingredients (in this case with natural Bourbon vanilla) and Debic cream. As close to home-made as it gets. Debic Crème Brûlée Bourbon is liquid, ready to use and comes in handy bottles with a resealable cap.
Watch this video to see just how easy it can be:
Mise en place: what can you do in advance?
Debic Crème Brûlée Bourbon is available in 1-litre bottles. Depending on the size of the dishes, one bottle is enough for 8 to 10 portions. Once you’ve made the basic preparation and divided it into portions, cover the dishes with cling film and leave to cool for at least 2 to 3 hours. Good to know: you can keep this crème brûlée for up to 4 days in the refrigerator. So, you can make it well in advance.
The perfect crispy layer
To get the best results, use cane sugar. But you can also use soft brown sugar or regular granulated sugar (S2). It’s better not to sprinkle this sugar on top beforehand, because it will become watery and won’t caramelise. So this is something you really need to do ‘à la minute’, right before serving. Invest in a good crème brûlée blow torch with a powerful flame. Once you have a crispy layer, you need to serve the crème brûlée to your guests as quickly as possible. Otherwise, the crispy layer will become watery after about 10 minutes.
Which would be a shame, because everyone loves to hear that ‘crack’ as the spoon goes into the crème brûlée!
Warm, lukewarm or cold?
Contrary to what some people think, crème brûlée is not served warm. Since the cream is usually served in a thin layer in a dish or on a plate, it warms up when you burn the sugar on top with a blow torch. This makes it slightly lukewarm, but crème brûlée is a preparation that is made in advance, is stored in the refrigerator and served immediately after burning the crispy layer.
Crème brûlée with...?
Debic Crème Brûlée Bourbon is flavoured with real Bourbon vanilla. You can always personalise your version by adding fresh flavours such as the citrus fruit zest, a dash of liqueur, a brunoise of fresh seasonal fruits, etc. Of course, you can also create other flavour accents by adding nut pastes or chocolate. For example, crème brûlée with pistachio is a classic on many menus. And a touch of cinnamon and a dash of Cointreau provide the typical aroma of the Crema Catalana. Good luck!
Crème brûlée and seasonal fruit: a match made in heaven. Here’s an example to get you in the mood: Crème brûlée with apple and hazelnut ganache. Or go to the Recipes section and search for ‘Crème brûlée’ to take your pick of inspiring recipes.