Oct 2008

Lemon Crème Brûlée


After successfully executing a Pavlova Pyatt last weekend, I was left with six egg yolks without a use. Not wanting to waste perfectly healthy yolks, I decided that crème brûlée would put them to delicious use. I also happened to serendipitously snatch up a fallen lemon on my evening run and interpreted it as a sign that I should prepare lemon crème brûlée. Unfortunately, there weren’t any blowtorches lying around on my running path and the broiler wasn’t up to snuff, so the brûlée didn’t quite happen. I topped my lemon crème with blueberries because lemon and blueberries always make a great team.

  • 2 large lemons
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • About 10 tablespoons turbinado sugar such as Sugar in the Raw
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Special equipment: 8 (4-oz) flameproof ramekins; a small blowtorch

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325 F.


Finely grate 2 tablespoons zest from lemons into cream in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan. Stir in 7 tablespoons turbinado sugar and a pinch of salt. Heat mixture over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until almost boiling, then remove from heat.


IMG_2843 IMG_2846

Lightly beat yolks in a bowl, then gradually whisk in hot cream. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a quart-size glass measure and stir in vanilla and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Divide among ramekins.


Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan and bake in a water bath until custards are just set around edge but centers wobble when pan is gently shaken, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool custards in water bath 20 minutes, then remove from pan and chill, uncovered, at least 4 hours. (Custards will set completely as they chill.)


Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar evenly over each custard, then move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth close to sugar until sugar is caramelized. Let stand until caramel is hardened, 3 to 5 minutes.

Cooks’ note: Custards can be chilled, covered with a sheet of plastic wrap after 4 hours, up to 2 days. Very gently blot with paper towels before sprinkling with sugar and caramelizing.

Makes 8 servings.

Gourmet, April 2004

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