We know, we know - homemade crème brûlée can be a tough sell. All you need is a culinary blowtorch, a few individual ramekins, your finest vanilla bean, and the foresight to let the custards set in the fridge for at least four hours. It’s soooo simple! (wink wink)
We'd like to follow up this extremely discouraging intro with some words of positivity. This crème brûlée is absolutely delicious and not as difficult as you might think it’d be. As long as you make sure that you’re well equipped to prepare such a dessert at home, then you are on your merry way to custard nirvana. Set yourself up for success! This version, which boasts a zesty flair from juicy winter citrus, is the ultimate “I’m-trying-to-impress-my-dinner-party-guests” dessert. The juice and zest from fresh grapefruit curd powers through the rich, creamy custard for a delightfully balanced treat.
To save time, you can always make the grapefruit curd a few days ahead. We like to bake off the custard the day before so that they can set overnight, but as long as they’re able to chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, then you’re all set. Just make sure you save the torching for when your guests arrive! That’s the real magic. If you’re going to go through the trouble of equipping yourself for this dessert, might as well show it off as much as you can!
For the Grapefruit Curd
- 5 eggs, yolks only
- 1/ 2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/ 2 cup fresh grapefruit juice
- 2 grapefruits, zested
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the Crème Brulée
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon grapefruit, zest
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, seeds scraped
- 1/ 4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
- 6 large eggs, yolks only
- 1/ 4 cup granulated sugar
- Fresh mint, for garnish
Make the grapefruit curd: Set up a double boiler by placing a heat safe bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the water is not touching the bottom of the bowl. Add the egg yolks, sugar, grapefruit juice and grapefruit zest to the bowl and whisk until smooth. Continue whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time until well combined. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Let cool, then place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before using.
Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a roasting pan with paper towels.
Make the Crème Brûlée base by adding the cream, grapefruit zest, vanilla bean and seeds and ¼ cup of sugar to a heavy bottomed saucepan. Bring the cream mixture to just a simmer, whisking every so often to make sure sugar has dissolved. Once the mixture reaches a simmer, remove from heat and cover. Let steep for 15 minutes.
Once cream has steeped, whisk egg yolks with remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar in a medium bowl. Temper the egg mixture by adding 1 cup of the warm cream to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly (so the eggs do not cook). Once the first cup of cream has been incorporated, add the remaining cream and whisk until smooth, then strain through a fine mesh strainer into a large pitcher or measuring cup.
Add the ramekins to the prepared roasting pan and add 1-2 tablespoons of the cooled curd to each of the ramekins, spreading it into an even layer. Add ramekins to the freezer and let set for about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large kettle of water to a boil. Set ramekins into the prepared pan, then slowly pour the cream mixture into each ramekin, taking care not to disrupt the curd. Place the pan in the oven, then pour boiling water into the pan so that it comes ⅔ of the way up the ramekins. Bake for about 25 minutes or until just set but still wobbly in the center.
Remove from oven and place Crème Brûlée on a cooling rack until cool to the touch. Once cool, cover carefully with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill for at least 3 hours, or preferably overnight.
When ready to serve, divide the remaining 1/4 cup sugar among each Crème Brûlée and torch with a culinary torch until golden brown. Garnish with mint and serve.