If you or someone you know is a lover of creamy coffee, this is a recipe you must have in your back pocket. Crème brulee – simply a baked egg custard with a crackly burnt sugar top – is easier to make than you might think. The secret is baking it in a bain marie - a French term for a water bath in which certain dishes are baked, giving them added insulation to ensure they bake through gently and evenly.
You don’t need special equipment to make a bain marie – I generally use a 9″x13″ or roasting pan. If the thought of torching or broiling the sugared top makes you nervous, you can simply omit it – a crème brulee without the bruleed top just has a different name – pot de crème. (It still sounds fancy.)
Espresso Crème Brulee
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
1 1/2 cups half & half or or 18% coffee cream
2 Tbsp. instant espresso
8 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
extra sugar, for sprinkling on top
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream and half & half until steaming; remove from heat and whisk in the espresso.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325˚F and whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Whisk the cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture.
Divide among 6-8 small ramekins or custard cups, and place them in a large baking pan. Fill the pan with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and bake for 45 minutes, or until set but still slightly jiggly. Cool and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.
Sprinkle an even layer of sugar over each dish and caramelize with a torch or transfer to a cookie sheet and place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, just until the sugar is caramelized and golden. Refrigerate again, until the sugar is set. Serves 6-8.