French Pastry Week // Crème Brulée for One

Sometimes, you don't need a whole lot of dessert.

There's a lot of crème brulée recipes out there, and they're great for your dinner party to serve 6 or 8 people. But sometimes, just for you is perfect.  You and a friend, if you just double it up.  Or a date night in! Something delicious, and luscious, and decadent.  This checks all of those boxes, as well as being something to make ahead and finish off at the last minute in dramatic style.


True confession: I don't own a chef's torch.  I try to keep my kitchen (it's rather small) as basic as possible when it comes to tools, accessories, and dishes.  And a blowtorch that I would use a couple of times a year just really doesn't make the cut.  Tell me-- am I missing one of life's greatest joys?  They look like fun, and I have coveted. But when I have a broiler that functions nicely and a spoon to heat up, it seems like my torch needs are superfluous.  

I did try both methods to caramelize the sugar on the brulee, and the winner is... a heated spoon. Who knew, right?  But I got out an old serving spoon (I recommend using something that you won't be heart broken to have discolored), held it with a hot mitt over my open gas flame for 4-5 minutes.  Then I set it on top of my sugar, mildly freaked out over the cloud of steam that curled up, and in a matter of seconds had beautifully browned and crusted  crème brulée .  I also liked that it left the custard cold and creamy, while the broiler warmed the whole dish and left beneath the caramelized sugar a bit soupy.

Crème Brulée

      For Two

      For One

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 6 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 2 inches of vanilla bean pod, or 1/4 tsp. of vanilla bean paste
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. large grain sugar, like turbinado or organic
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp. whole milk
  • 1 inch of vanilla bean pod, or an 1/8 tsp. of vanilla bean paste
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1.5 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. large grain sugar, like turbinado or organic


Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a small saucepan, combine heavy cream and milk.  With a sharp knife, slit open the vanilla bean pod and scrape out the seeds.  Stir into the cream and milk along with the pod and bring to a light boil.  Turn off heat and remove the bean pod.

In a small bowl, stir the granulated sugar into the egg yolk.  Beat tiny bits of the egg and sugar into the hot cream until it is all combined.  Pour into a 6 oz. ramekin and place in a small baking dish and fill the dish with cold water until the ramekins are half way submerged.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the creme is set on the outside but still a little jiggly in the middle.

Refrigerate for four hours, or overnight. Remove from refrigerator and using a paper towel gently blot up any condensation that may have formed on the top of the custard.  Sprinkle a teaspoon of the large grain sugar evenly over the top.  Hold a serving sized metal spoon over an open gas flame and heat until it begins to darken.  Immediately set the spoon onto the sugar and move it around to carmelize all of the entire top.  Serve immediately by itself, or with fruit.

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