Strange IndiaStrange India

Crème brûlée seems like the intimidating sort of French dessert meant only for bougie restaurants. Even though the traditional version is relatively straightforward with a manageable ingredient list, the technique is what’s likely to scare off new bakers. Custards belong to a finicky category of their own. Avoid the stress and insecurity of a proper crème brûlée, and make this cheater version with ice cream. 

Crème brûlée normally requires the careful tempering of eggs with scalding cream. If you mix everything correctly, you’ll be rewarded with a silky custard after baking. However, if you don’t, you could end up with a broken custard, a lumpy custard, or one that never sets. 

Lucky for us, vanilla custard comes pre-made and lasts indefinitely in the freezer section of your grocery store. Ice cream, blessedly, is a frozen, aerated custard. It includes all the usual ingredients—cream, milk, eggs, flavorings, and sugar—with the helpful addition of emulsifiers and maybe thickeners, depending on the brand. All things that help stabilize and keep the custard from breaking. These are just little safety nets us cheaters are smart enough to take advantage of when making quick, fool-proof desserts. 

How to make crème brûlée from ice cream

Besides speed and ease, part of the beauty of this trick is that you’re not required to make a big batch. You can make a single serving for a solo night in, or two servings for an easy Valentine’s Day dessert. 

1. Melt the ice cream

Grab a pint of vanilla bean ice cream. (Actual vanilla bean is a tad out of budget for me; vanilla bean ice cream works just fine.) Your goal is a half-cup of melted ice cream, so scoop a little more than what appears to be half of a cup into a microwavable measuring cup. Microwave it for 20 to 30 seconds, or until it’s almost completely melted. There should still be a little solid hunk left in the center. Stir it to melt that last bit without bringing the temperature up too high.

2. Add the egg yolk

A whisk in a cup of custard.

After the yolk is mixed in, the custard will be a bit foamy on top.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

The ice cream should be barely warm before you add the egg. If it’s hot then let it sit and cool for a few minutes. Whisk in one egg yolk until the mixture is smooth.

3. Bake the custard

Set the ramekin inside a larger vessel with tall sides, like a cake pan or a loaf pan. Pour the custard mixture into a six-ounce ramekin. Put the cake pan with the ramekin in the oven and pour hot water into the cake pan until the water comes halfway up the side of the ramekin. Be careful not to splash any water into the custard. Bake it at 325°F for 30 to 35 minutes. To check for doneness, lightly shake the ramekin. The edges should be set and the center should jiggle slightly without being watery. It’s expected for the top to have a bubbly texture. Don’t worry, this will be covered with sugar at the end.

4. Cool the crème brûlée

Take the cake pan and crème brûlée out of the oven and let it cool in the water bath for 10 minutes. Lift out the ramekin, dry it off and put it in the fridge to cool for at least four hours to chill and set. 

5. Top it with sugar and brûlée

Crème brûlée topped with sugar.

Use more sugar if you like a thicker layer of caramel.
Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

When you’re ready to serve the dessert, take it out of the fridge 30 minutes beforehand to take the chill off. Sprinkle a teaspoon or two of plain granulated sugar over the top. You can dump off the excess if you prefer a thin caramel layer. Use a kitchen blow torch to carefully melt and caramelize the sugar, or, with great vigilance, put the ramekin under the broiler for a minute or so. 

I was astounded by the result. While I will always agree that the traditional method produces a “true” crème brûlée, you could fool anyone with this hack. As long as you’re careful not to overcook it (that goes for any custard, cheater or not), the interior is luxurious and silky. It positively exudes aromatic vanilla and cream, and of course there’s never a problem with a crunchy caramel shell. 

You can keep it classic with vanilla ice cream, or explore a little. Use caramel ice cream, coffee ice cream, or chocolate. Stick to the pure flavors without chunks of fruit or mix-ins because those could sink to the bottom or otherwise mess with the custard’s consistency. One pint of ice cream has the potential to make you four servings, so go ahead and multiply this recipe for a small group. Or just sit pretty with three more opportunities for an easy crème brûlée in your future.

Single-serving Cheater’s Crème Brûlée Recipe


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a 6-ounce ramekin in the center of a 9-inch cake pan.

2. The melted ice cream should be cool or barely warm. Whisk in the egg yolk until smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into the ramekin. Place the cake pan and ramekin together in the oven. Pour hot water into the cake pan to make a water bath. The water line should rise halfway up the ramekin.

4. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the edges are set and the center slightly jiggles. Cool the custard in the pan for 10 minutes and then remove the ramekin, dry it off, and allow it to set in the fridge for at least four hours, but ideally overnight.

5. Let the crème brûlée sit at room temperature 30 minutes before serving. Sprinkle the sugar over the surface and shake the ramekin to make an even layer. Use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize the sugar, or place the ramekin under the broiler for one or two minutes to do the same. Once the caramel layer cools, serve immediately.

Source link


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *