Oh, Creme Brulee.

It’s one of my favorite desserts. When I was in high school my parents gave me a creme brulee set for hannukah and I was so excited and then when I decided I was going to make creme brulee, I couldn’t find the set.

Then I moved to Portland and I found a set at a garage sale for $5. When I bought it the woman looked like she’d realized she could have sold it for more. Haha!

Then that sat on my shelf for another 9 months because I kept forgetting to get butane for the torch.

I finally got butane and let me tell you, there are going to be a lot more torched recipes on this blog…

I skipped a lot of the wait time on this recipe. It wanted me to let the custard sit over night (HELL NO, I WANT MY CREME BRULEE NOW). And then let it sit for another 4 hours… and I just decided to not do it. It turned out fine. So there. I don’t understand warming up the cream and vanilla bean and then letting it cool except that it might infuse the vanilla into the cream more. I did it, but I think you could probably skip that too.

I used all the tiny pans I had (creme brulee pans, brioche tins, muffin tins…) and I found that muffin tins worked and looked the best, so if you’re worried that you don’t have enough tins, you do. As for the torch… go get one. They are so much fun!

Cinnamon & Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee Tartlets


720 ml heavy whipping cream

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise to expose seeds

10 egg yolks

80 grams granulated sugar, plus extra for torching

In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the cream, cinnamon stick, and vanilla bean and bring just to a simmer. Remove from heat, pour into a glass or metal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about 4 hours or overnight.

Now is a good time to scroll down and start the tart crust!

Reheat the cream mixture just to a boil, then remove from heat and set aside.

In a large metal or glass bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar for about a minute until the sugar is mostly dissolved.

Pour about 1/4 of the hot cream mixture through a sieve into the egg yolk mixture and whisk well to combine. Pour the rest of the cream through the sieve into the egg yolk mixture, and discard the leftover cinnamon stick and vanilla bean pod. Whisk well to combine.

Set bowl containing egg/cream mixture over a pot of barely simmering water to create a double boiler, making sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water itself. Cook, whisking constantly over the simmering water for 10-15 minutes or until it begins to thicken.

Once the custard has thickened (it will not be as thick as a pastry cream), remove from heat and whisk for another two minutes to start the cooling process. Once it has cooled a bit, set a layer of plastic wrap directly on the custard, this will prevent it from getting a skin, and chill for at least an hour or until it has thickened considerably.

Pate Brisee Tart Shells

400 grams (14 oz) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar

100 grams (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
2/3 cup water, chilled
665 grams (1 lb 7 1/2 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

In a small bowl, combine sugar, water, and vinegar, stir to aid the dissolving of the sugar. Set aside in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Then, stir again to completely dissolve sugar.

In the bowl of a standard mixer using the paddle, combine the flour and salt together. Add the butter, and stir on a medium until butter is cut in and evenly dispersed. You should have visible chunks of butter in your flour mixture, this is where the flakiness comes from.
Slowly add the water mixture with the flour until it is evenly dispersed. dump dough out onto a clean surface and knead gently a few times, just until dough comes together in one cohesive ball.
Cut the dough into two disks and roll out the dough. Wrap the dough you are not using tightly in plastic wrap and place in the fridge. Using a 4-inch round cookie cutter (or any circular cookie cutter that is about 1/2 wider than the bottom of your mold), cut circles out of each disc of dough. Press each disc into your tart mold (a muffin tin actually works perfect if you don’t have tart pans), being careful not to stretch the dough, as this will cause shrinkage when baking. Push the excess off the edge by rolling your rolling pin across the edges of your tart molds and slowly pulling off the excess dough around the edges. and make sure the dough gets into each nook and cranny of the tart mold. 
Freeze shells for at least 20 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line each tart shell with a small piece of tin foil and fill with beans, rice, or pie weights. Place tart shells on a baking sheet and bake for 20, or until shells gain a bit of color. Take out the weights and bake for another 5 minutes, until the shells are a light brown.
Let shells cool in molds for at least 15 minutes, then gently un-mold and cool completely on a cooling rack. You can make these ahead of time, then freeze until ready to fill.

Fill the tart shells with the custard. You can overfill them a bit and then use a off set spatula to scrape any excess off the top, leaving a nice flat surface for the torched sugar. Once all the tarts are filled, chill them for at least 15 minutes before torching.

Sprinkle about a teaspoon or so of sugar in a thin layer over each tart, and use a kitchen torch to caramelize sugar. Concentrate mostly on the center, and torch gently around the edges being careful not to burn the edges of the pastry.

Let the tarts sit for a minute so the sugar has hardened before you serve them.


Total Time: About 6 hours

Picture taken by the amazing Rachel King