Coffee Crème Brûlée

January 11, 2013

I’ve been itching to make crème brûlée for several months now, but there were a few things holding me back: 1) I only had 4 ramekins and they were a larger 8-ounce size, and 2) no blowtorch. So in November I started hinting (very strongly) that my birthday was coming and I reeeeeally wanted to try some new things in the kitchen, and lo and behold, an Iwatani torch arrived with my name on it! I didn’t end up getting the ramekins until Christmas, but with the craziness of the holidays, I wouldn’t have really had time to do much experimenting anyway.

So for New Years’ Day dinner we invited my dad over (because my mom was out of town) and I served my very first crème brûlée for dessert. Of course I couldn’t just start with something vanilla flavored – I went for coffee since I’d been drooling over the recipe in Gourmet Today for a while. Took me a few minutes to get the feel for the best setting on the torch and the proper motion to get the sugar caramelized, but it’s not hard. The sugar doesn’t burn instantly if your flame is too hot or too close, and you can always quickly back off if it starts getting dark.

The custards were amazing. If making crème brûlée is something you’ve been considering, don’t be intimidated and give it a try! New foods for a new year. :)

Coffee creme brulee

The custards (without the sugar topping) can be refrigerated for up to 2 days (cover tightly once cold). Blot very gently with papaer towels before sprinkling with sugar and caramelizing.

You will need 8 small (4 to 6 ounce) flame-proof ramekins and a kitchen blowtorch for making this recipe.

Makes 8


  • 1¾  cups heavy cream
  • 1¾  cups whole milk
  • 1½  tablespoons instant espresso powder
  • 2  tablespoons Kahlua
  • 1  large egg
  • 6  large egg yolks
  • 2/3  cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt
  • 1/4  cup turbinado sugar, such as Sugar in the Raw


  1. Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.
  2. Heat cream and milk in a heavy saucepan over moderately high heat until mixture just reaches a boil. Add espresso powder and Kahlua, stirring until espresso powder is dissolved. Remove from heat.
  3. Whisk together egg, egg yolks, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add milk mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Skim off any foam with a spoon.
  4. Divide custard among ramekins. Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan, put pan in oven, and add enough boiling water to pan to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake custards until just set around edges but still wobbly in center, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer ramekins to a rack to cool.
  5. Refrigerate custards, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for at least 4 hours.
  6. Just before serving, sprinkle 1½ teaspoons turbinado sugar evenly over each custard. Move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth close to sugar until it is caramelized. Let stand until caramel is hardened, 3 to 5 minutes.

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