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Basil Crème Brûlée with Strawberries

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Basil Crème Brûlée with Strawberries is a smooth and creamy baked custard that is always impressive at a dinner party! Make it ahead and put on a show by torching the sugar just before serving.

Herb-Infused Crème Brûlée is Not Weird At All!

Many years ago I swooned over a basil-infused crème brûlée topped with strawberries (of some kind…whole fruit? sauce? I can’t really remember that part) at a D.C. restaurant that has since closed. Needless to say, it made an impression.

Every time I enjoy a classic crème brûlée, I think of THAT one, so I’ve finally decided to recreate it at home. Strawberries and basil are found together in all kinds of dishes, so stick with me here when I say that this works!

Basil creme brûlée with strawberries and a bowl of sugar.

Ingredients You’ll Need

I recommend organic products, if possible, for this crème brûlée so the flavors are true and pure.

  • Heavy cream
  • Granulated sugar
  • Vanilla extract 
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh basil
  • Egg yolks
  • Strawberries

How to Make Crème Brûlée

Prepare Your Ramekins — Preheat the oven to 300°F. You’ll need a baking dish to hold four 4-oz. ramekins. Place a paper towel or kitchen towel in the bottom of the baking dish to prevent the ramekins from sliding around.

Infuse the Cream — Combine the heavy cream, sugar, salt and basil leaves in a small saucepan. Cook it over medium heat, just until it begins to simmer. Turn off the heat and stir the cream to ensure the sugar has dissolved. Set it aside for 15 minutes to allow the basil to infuse the cream.

Whisk the Eggs — After the cream has been infusing for 10 minutes, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla until it is thick and smooth; it will also lighten in color.

Combine the Cream + Eggs — Whisking constantly, slowly pour a ladleful of basil cream into the egg mixture. Continue to add basil cream while you whisk until it’s all incorporated. 

Strain the Custard — Place a fine mesh strainer over a large measuring cup (the spout makes it easier to fill the ramekins). Strain the custard to remove the basil, any lumps or skin (discard this stuff). If there is any foam on the top of the custard, now is the time to skim this off. The foam will create large bubbles on top of the baked custards and you don’t want that!

Pour Into Ramekins — Divide the custard between the ramekins.

Prepare a Bain Marie — Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil. Carefully fill the baking dish with hot water until the water comes halfway up the side of the ramekins. This ‘hot water bath’ will help the custard cook gently and evenly. I recommend placing the baking dish in the oven before adding the hot water to limit sloshing and spilling!

A paper towel in the bottom of the dish prevents ramekins from sliding around. The hot water bath prevents the towel from burning and helps the custards cook evenly.

Bake — Cover the dish loosely with aluminum foil (I just set a sheet of foil on top) and bake for 35 minutes. The center should still jiggle a bit when ready. Remove to a cooling rack and let them rest in the baking dish for 15 minutes. Then, remove the ramekins from the dish and cool for an additional 15 minutes at room temperature.

Chill — Cover and chill the custards for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

The Double Torch Method

Double torching the sugar is a great way to achieve the crispy pane of sugar on your crème brûlée. Here’s how to do it:

  • Sprinkle one teaspoon of sugar on top of each custard.
  • Using a kitchen torch positioned 4 to 5 inches above the surface, liquify the sugar in a small circular motion. Do this to all 4 custards.
  • Sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar on each custard.
  • Torch the sugar a second time. This time, focus on achieving that golden, caramelized crust.
  • Allow them to cool off for a few minutes before adding strawberries and basil garnish.

I definitely get better results using this method over the single torching method. Either way, save this step until you’re ready to serve dessert!

Common Questions 

How do I know the custards are really done?

As mentioned earlier, the center of the custard should still jiggle a bit (like jello) when you remove them from the oven. You can also use an instant read thermometer to test that the center has reached 170°F. They will continue to carryover cook by leaving them in the hot water for those 15 minutes. At this point, if you press the center gently with your fingertip, it should be soft but set.

What kind of ramekins should I use?

For this recipe, I used shallow, oval-shaped ramekins. The cooking time and temperature account for this. If you use taller, round-shaped ramekins, you may need to adjust your cooking time.

What kind of torch should I use and can I just use the broiler?

A small butane kitchen torch is ideal. It sits nicely in your hand and gives you the best control. You can use the broiler, but DO NOT walk away from it. It’s too easy to burn the sugar under the broiler.

For more answers, Bon Appetit give us the real deal about common mistakes made while making creme brûlée.

More Sweets for You to Enjoy!

Basil creme brûlée with strawberries.

Basil Crème Brûlée with Strawberries

Sip + Sanity | Linda Feller
Basil Creme Brûlée with Strawberries is a smooth and creamy baked custard that is always impressive at a dinner party! Make it ahead and put on a show by torching the sugar just before serving.
Prep time.10 minutes
Cook time.45 minutes
Custom time.2 hours 45 minutes
Total time.3 hours 40 minutes
Course.Dessert
Cuisine.European, French
Number of servings.4 servings
Calories per serving.310 kcal

Ingredients

Custard

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10-12 leaves fresh basil
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Brûlée Topping

  • 8 teaspoon sugar

Garnish

  • 8 strawberries, sliced, chopped, cut into roses, fanned, etc.
  • fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position. Place a small dish towel or paper towel in the bottom of a baking dish and set ramekins on top. This will prevent the ramekins from sliding around.
  • In a small saucepan, combine heavy cream, sugar, salt and basil. Cook over medium heat, until it begins to simmer (little bubbles will form around the outside edge).
  • Remove the pan from heat and let stand for 15 minutes to allow the basil to infuse into the cream. After 10 minutes, move on to the next step.
  • In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the vanilla until it is thick and smooth. Take a small ladleful of basil cream and pour it slowly into the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Continue adding a little at a time until it's all incorporated. It's ok if the basil gets mixed in; it will be strained out.
  • Place a fine mesh strainer over a large measuring cup (the spout will make it easier to pour into the ramekins). Strain the custard to remove the basil, clumps or any skin that has formed. If there is any foam on top of the custard, now is the time to skim it off so you achieve smooth baked custard.
  • Divide the custard between the ramekins.
  • Bring a kettle or pot of water to a boil (you can prepare this earlier in the process). Place the baking dish in the oven and carefully pour in the water until it comes about halfway up the side of the ramekins. Avoid splashing water into the custards. Cover loosely with aluminum foil.
  • Bake for 35 minutes. The centers should still jiggle a bit when ready. (The centers should be 170°F when tested with an instant read thermometer.) Remove from the oven and place the baking dish on a cooling rack.
  • After 15 minutes, remove the ramekins from the baking dish and cool an additional 15 minutes at room temperature.
  • Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  • The Double Torch Method: When ready to serve, remove the custards from fridge. Sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Using a kitchen torch, caramelize the sugar by moving the flame around the surface in small circles just until the sugar has liquified. Repeat the process, but this time torch the sugar until it turns golden. Be careful not to over-torch the sugar or it will become burnt and bitter.
  • Cool completely, then top with strawberries and a sprig of basil to garnish.

Nutrition

Calories: 310kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 220mg | Sodium: 102mg | Potassium: 100mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 15g | Vitamin A: 1127IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords.holidays, oven, stove top, valentine’s day
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