Crème brûlée is one of the most famous French desserts and I got to admit, this is in my TOP 3 of my favourite dessert (I’m not joking)!! Crème brûlée is a classic dessert that’s very easy to make at home, a smooth texture, an incomparable vanilla flavour and a thin layer of crunchy caramel… I’m sure once you try it, you’ll adopt it 🙂
Did you know that crème brûlée is a French invention that goes all the way back to the 17th century?
Different stories have been told about crème brûlée, but I’m going to tell you the most famous one…
The exact origin of crème brûlée remains unknown. Even if the French, Spanish and English dispute over the origin of crème brûlée, the first written historical reference is French, from the work published in 1691, Nouveau cuisinier royal et bourgeois, by the cook François Massialot (1660-1733).
In the 17th century, dishes were served at the table in three courses. By the time the guests had been served each dish, they had plenty of time to cool down. During a meal, Philippe d’Orléans, Louis XIV’s younger brother, passionate about cooking, complained to his chef François Massialot that his cream was too cold. The cook then had the idea of applying a hot iron on top of this sugar cream to warm it up. This action resulted in burning and caramelizing the sugar on the surface without heating the cream underneath. This hot-cold contrast pleased Philippe d’Orléans so much that he asked for more. The crème brûlée was born…
French, English or Spanish?
Could François Massialot have tasted the ancestors of crème brûlée before developing it? In his youth, he lived in London where a primitive form of crème brulée would have existed. In support of this thesis, we can note that in some editions of his book, he calls it “Crème Angloise”. Furthermore, when he accompanied Louis XIV’s military architect Vauban on his tour of the royal fortifications in the Pyrenees, he may have discovered “Crema Catalana” (“Catalan cream”), where some Spaniards see the origin of crème brûlée.
In any case, the most likely explanation is that crème brûlée is the synthesis of his various culinary discoveries added to the demand of a child amateur cook and the zest of genius peculiar to François Massialot.
This recipe, after falling into oblivion, made a remarkable reappearance on restaurant tables a little over twenty years ago to the delight of gourmets!
And now, time to cook!
Prep time: 20 minutes.
Cooking: 35 minutes
Ingredients for 6 people:
- 50 cl whole liquid fresh cream
- 100 g sugar
- 6 egg yolks
- 6 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- ramekins and a kitchen torch
- Cut the vanilla bean in half to extract the seeds.
- Heat the cream over low heat with the vanilla beans (both halves)
- Beat the yolks and sugar + vanilla seeds vigorously to obtain a foamy mixture. Gradually pour the warmed and filtered cream over the yellow/sugar mix, stirring continuously.
- Preheat the oven to 160° and place the cream in the ramekins, and cook in a bain-marie for 30 to 35 minutes, the cream should tremble like a flan.
- Take out of the oven and put the crèmes brûlées in the fridge for at least 4 hours.
- Pour a layer of sugar on top and let caramelize it with your torch. It’s ready!!!
My personalised touch!
I gave you the traditional recipe, but it’s still interesting to personalise one’s desserts. According to your desires, you can personalise this crème brûlée and give it a special touch adding rose water, matcha tea or cocoa powder, orange blossom for example!