If you want to really impress your guests, make them this coffee crème brûlée. These luscious little custards are the work of minutes and can be made ahead of time making them just as perfect for entertaining as they are a family dessert treat.
Why you’ll love these
What’s not to love? Coffee crème brûlée is like the most delicious coffee in creamy custard form, with a layer of crunchy caramelised sugar on top.
- Just 4 ingredients and around 10 minutes effort
- Luxurious and creamy
- You can make them ahead of time
- Naturally gluten free
The textural difference between that crunchy topping and the incredibly soft, smooth, creamy custard is amazing. Cracking through that topping with your spoon is unbelievably satisfying.
What is crème brûlée?
- Crème = cream: Pronounced “krem” this refers to the baked custard made up largely of cream and eggs.
- Brûlée = burnt: Pronounced “broo-lay” this refers to the ‘burnt’ sugar topping that goes hard and cracks when you hit it with a spoon.
Hence, creme brulee is a baked custard with a crisp sugar topping and it’s all kinds of delicious. It’s a much-loved French dessert that is best served chilled.
You have to love a dessert with just 4 basic ingredients.
- Sugar: I prefer caster (superfine) sugar but white granulated sugar works too.
- Cream: This is thickened or heavy cream
- Large egg yolks: Use the yolks from large eggs and free-range eggs if possible.
- Flavour of choice: For this recipe we’re using coffee but you can swap it out for a couple of teaspoons of vanilla extract for the more classic crème brûlée.
It always amazes me how these simple ingredients can make such a luscious, incredibly special dessert.
How to make creme brûlée at home
- Start by heating together cream and sugar (photo 1) in a medium saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Add some instant coffee granules (photo 2) and stir until they’ve dissolved.
- Whisk some egg yolks until they’re lightened and thickened a little (photo 3).
- Slowly drizzle the hot coffee cream mixture into the yolks, while stirring (photo 4).
- Pour the cream mixture through a strainer (photo 5).
- Sit small ramekins or glass jars in a baking dish and divide custard between them (photo 6). Pour water in to halfway up the sides of ramekins to create a water bath, then bake until set.
- Remove them from the oven and let cool on a wire rack, before chilling completely in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve, sprinkle a layer of sugar over the top of each and use a kitchen torch to caramelise the sugar.
Tips and tricks
While these coffee crème brûlée are very simple to make, there’s a few points to be aware of.
- Tempering eggs: Tempering eggs means add hot liquid to egg yolks slowly whilst constantly stirring so they don’t scramble. So, super important – drizzle slowly, stir constantly. Do this and you’ll have no problems.
- Straining: Even if you’re confident there are no bits of scrambled egg in your custard, it’s a good idea to strain it. This just saves anyone from eating a whole coffee granule that may not have dissolved.
- Chill the crème brûlées: Use a tea towel to help you remove them from the hot water and set them on a wire rack to cool for half an hour, then It’s important to chill them for at least 4 hours to get them to completely set.
- What ramekins to use: Any small oven-safe ramekin, bowl or jar will work however these are only a small serves so make sure the vessel you choose is suitable. Each one will only need around 2/3 cup volume. Keep in mind that the more shallow the vessel, the shorter baking time will be required. The ones shown in these pictures took around 45-50 minutes to be set due to the height.
- Water bath: You must use a water bath to get that perfect silky texture and no cracks on top. If you don’t, your coffee crème brûlée might turn out a little gelatinous as opposed to set but silky.
- How to know when they’re ready: As different ramekins / jars will take different amounts of time for the perfectly baked custard, check for the jiggle. You’re looking for a jiggle that looks a bit like jelly (jello) and not a wobble that looks like there is still liquid below the surface. These eggnog crème brûlée take 30 minutes in their shallow dishes whilst these salted caramel pots de crème take 45 minutes in their taller jars.
- Adding the sugar topping: Make sure to cover the entire top of the custard with sugar before you start to caramelise it. I find a kitchen blowtorch the best method for caramelising the sugar. Using a broiler will heat the custard below it too much.
How to store coffee creme brulee
This is a dessert that can be made ahead, so you can store the baked coffee custards in the fridge for 1-2 days in the refrigerator, then add the sugar right before you serve.
Don’t forget to watch the video to see me make them in the recipe card.
So, crunchy caramelised sugar on top of set, silky smooth, melt-in-the-mouth custard, this coffee crème brûlée is one decadent but extremely simple dessert. If you’re a coffee lover, it’s the best latte you’ll ever try.
If you try this coffee creme brulee recipe, please take a moment to leave a rating and comment below. I love hearing from you and it helps other readers too! You can also take a photo and tag @sugarsaltmagic on Instagram.
More gorgeous custard puddings
- Salted Caramel Pots De Crème
- Chocolate Crème Brûlée
- Eggnog Crème Brûlée
- Mango Tart
- No Bake Chocolate Meringue Pie
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Coffee Crème Brûlée
- 2 cups thickened (or heavy cream) (500ml)
- 5 egg yolks, from large eggs
- ½ cup caster (superfine) sugar (100g / 3.5oz)
- 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules (note 1)
- Extra sugar for topping
- Preheat the oven to 160C / 320F / 140C fan forced. Place 4 ramekins (notes 3) in a flat bottomed baking tray with high sides.
- Place the sugar and cream in a saucepan over low heat. Heat, stirring every so often, until all the sugar is dissolved.
- Once the cream is steaming, add the coffee and stir to dissolve (press any stubborn granules up against the side of the pan to dissolve).
- Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale and thickened slightly.
- Place the bowl of eggs on a damp tea towel as you won’t be able to hold it, then, while stirring slowly with a whisk, drizzle the hot cream mixture slowly into the egg yolks. Make sure to pour slowly and continue stirring so the sudden heat doesn’t scramble the eggs.
- Strain the mixture into a pouring jug and skim any froth off the top, then pour evenly into the ramekins.
- Now pour hot (not boiling) water into the baking dish, around the outside of the ramekins to halfway up their sides.
- Very carefully place in the oven and bake for 30-50 minutes (notes 4) or until the edges look set and the centres have a bit of a jelly (jell-o) wobble.
- Very carefully lift the ramekins out of the baking dish and set aside to cool for 15 minutes before covering with plastic wrap and placing in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.
- When ready to serve, cover the tops in about 1-2 teaspoons of sugar, making sure no custard is showing. Use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelise the sugar, then serve.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (=4 teaspoons).
- Caster / superfine sugar (not powdered) is best as it will dissolve quicker. If you can only use regular white granulated sugar, just keep the heat a little lower so that it is mostly dissolved before it starts to bubble.
- Ramekins: Different ramekins will required different baking times. See next note. Ramekins or jars should have at least ⅔ cup capacity.
- Baking time: All ovens are different, the width or depth of the ramekins, how hot the custard was before you put it in the oven are all things that can affect baking time. I generally cook these in small jam jars for 45 minutes, then check every 5 minutes thereafter.
- You’ll know they are done, when you give them a gentle shake and they have a slight wobble in the centre but not like there is liquid under the surface – think jelly (jell-o).
- Creme brulee can be made up to 2 days in advance without the brulee topping. Brulee them just before serving for best results or up to an hour before if you want to get ahead.
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