This delicious Earl Grey crème brûlée recipe is the perfect dessert to end off a dinner. It’s silky smooth, creamy, not too sweet, and has a perfect crunch on top. Earl grey tea leaves and a whole vanilla bean are infused in the milk to give it lots of flavour. Almost like a London Fog drink! The crunchy caramelized sugar layer on top complements all the flavours. Most importantly, it only has a few ingredients and is so easy to put together. But seriously, it is one of the least intimidating desserts out there that will never cease to impress.
If you prefer, you can also infuse the milk with a different type of tea. Use a good quality loose leaf tea for the best flavour.
Frequently asked questions
Yes it is! You will be surprised with how easy it is to make it. No fancy mixers needed, just a hand whisk – or dare I say… a fork? – if you don’t have one.
The hardest part is pouring in the boiling water into the pan and being careful not to get any water into the crème brûlée.
You can make the crème brûlée the day before and store in the fridge. Don’t finish them off with the sugar and torch until just before serving. The crunchy sugar crust will get wet and syrupy if it sits too much. That is why I recommend serving an hour or two after they are torched.
Yes, it’s in the name! You only want little bits of slightly burnt areas on top when torching the sugar. That will give it a bit of a smoky flavour and that hard satisfying crack when you hit it with a spoon. You want that caramel and slightly burnt flavour. It works so well with the Earl Grey flavour too! I mean, talk about opposites attract – luscious and silky interior, and a hard crunchy top.
If you don’t have a torch to flame the tops then you can use the broil function in your oven. Just set it to high and place your ramekins in the top portion of your oven. Make sure to keep a close eye on them so that they don’t burn too much.
I prefer the using a kitchen torch because I can control the exact areas that need heat. That way I can get a perfect even browning all over.
I have tried using brown sugar on top but it burns faster than it can melt to form a hard crust. It gives the crème brûlée a very uneven and grainy crust. You can use granulated or cane sugar for an even golden crust.
If you’ve ever wondered why Earl Grey tea has such a delicious scent, then wonder no more! Its unique flavour comes from bergamot. Bergamot is a citrus fruit that comes from the Citrus bergamia plant. Commonly grown in the Mediterranean, it is the size of an orange and its colouring ranges from green to yellow. There is a lot of speculation about how the flavour was discovered. My favourite story was how the flavours infused by accident when a container of tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together from Chinese diplomats to Earl Grey.
Check out my other recipes:
- Whole milk: Don’t use anything less than 2% milkfat content. This isn’t a low fat dessert!
- Earl grey tea (looseleaf or 3 teabags): Use a good quality loose leaf tea for the best flavour. Make sure it still smells fresh. If the leaves don’t smell like anything, chances are your crème brûlée won’t taste like much either.
- Whole vanilla bean: this will infuse the milk with all the delicious vanilla flavour. If you can’t find one, you can substitute with 1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract.
- Egg yolks from large eggs: Save the whites for an egg white omelette or a delicious meringue.
- Granulated sugar: You can use granulated or cane sugar.
- Sea salt: Flavour, baby!
- Heavy cream or whipping cream: Use a cream that is about 35%. This will give the crème brûlée lots of richness and creaminess.
- Granulated sugar (before serving): You can use cane or granulated sugar for the crunchy caramel top. I do not recommend brown sugar (see above why).
- Infuse milk with tea leaves and vanilla bean pod.
- Prepare the bain-marie (water bath) by putting a kettle full of water to boil. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F).
- Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar just until the sugar starts to dissolve. Do not let the mixture lighten in colour. Add the heavy cream, infused milk, salt, and stir.
- Ladle into 4 oven safe ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large tray. Pour boiling water into the tray to about halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center.
- Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool on a metal rack until room temperature. Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, take the ramekins out of the fridge and sprinkle 1.5 tsp granulated or light brown sugar evenly on top of each crème brûlée. Heat with kitchen torch or directly under the broiler until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Enjoy immediately!
Earl Grey Creme Brulee
- 4 oven safe ramekins
- Deep baking tray for water bath
- 1 ⅓ cups milk Nothing lower than 2%
- 2 tbsp loose leaf earl grey tea or 3 teabags
- 1 vanilla bean whole
- 5 egg yolks large
- ⅓ cup granulated sugar
- ⅛ tsp sea salt
- 1 cup heavy cream or whipping cream (35%)
- 4 tbsp granulated sugar
- Infuse the milk: Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Combine vanilla bean pod, seeds, tea, and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a seive and discard the tea leaves and vanilla pod.
- Prepare bain-marie: Fill a kettle to the top with water and set to boil. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F).
- Prepare crème brûlée mixture: Whisk sugar into egg yolks in a medium bowl, just until sugar starts to dissolve. Do not lighten the mixture. Add cream, infused milk, and salt and stir with the whisk.
- Pour mixture evenly into 4 individual ramekins. Place ramekins in a large and deep baking tray (9" by 12" or 9" by 13"). Carefully pour boiling water into the tray to about halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake at 160°C (320°F) for 25-30 minutes (depending on the size of the ramekins). They should be mostly set with a slight jiggle in the center.
- Cool: Carefully remove ramekins from the water bath with tongs while still hot. Let cool on a metal rack until room temperature. Cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Just before serving: sprinkle about 1 tbsp granulated sugar on the surface of each crème brûlée. Heat with a torch (preferably) or directly under a broiler until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Let the sugar cool completely before serving. Serve immediately with fresh fruit.
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