Winter 2012 Holiday Recipes: Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee

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On December 12, our sales manager Alex Valencia celebrated his birthday. As the birthday boy, he was given the honor of choosing that week’s Treat Tuesday. At his request, we spent that afternoon torching sugar! This is a slightly tweaked recipe from Emeril Lagasse and really stands out with the use of a whole vanilla bean.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 7 egg yolks
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • ½ cup of white sugar
  • ½ tsp. vanilla powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large sauce pan combine cream, milk and all parts of vanilla bean and simmer until steaming but not boiling. Stir frequently to prevent from burning. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla powder, and set aside.

Once cream mixture is off the heat, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow in color. Using a fine mesh metal strainer, slowly pour a small amount of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks, stirring frequently to prevent them from cooking. Continue adding small amounts of cream until the yolks are lukewarm and you can add the rest of the mix.

Stir well to combine and pour into 6 baking cups or ramekins. Places the ramekins in a 13×9 baking pan and pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the ramekins. Place in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until the tops are golden.

Remove from oven and allow to cool until ramekins are safe to handle. Remove ramekins from water and cool completely before placing in refrigerator for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

When serving, sprinkle each ramekin with 1-2 tablespoons of sugar, evenly distributing it across the surface. Using a kitchen torch, broil the sugar until it bubbles and turns amber; it will harden as it cools. If you do not have a torch, 2-4 minutes under your oven broiler will also caramelize the top (just be careful to watch that it doesn’t burn).

Notes on Vanillas

If you’re looking for a great deal on real, amazing vanilla beans, the one used in this recipe was purchased on Amazon from JR Mushrooms & Specialties. At less than $1 per bean these were an amazing deal and the quality was superb! Lisa purchased a bag almost 2 years ago and they are still moist!

The vanilla powder can be a tough find. It’s very useful for giving a little extra vanilla kick to recipes you don’t want to add extra liquid extract to. Can also be used as a garnish dusting on finished items. You can find it from Nielsen-Massey Vanillas but be warned – it cakes very quickly in humid climates (likeSouth Florida…).