Vanilla crème brûlée

You’ll easily find success with Nici Wickes' crème brûlée recipe for the famed French burnt custard. They’re best made a day ahead but wait to “burn” the tops until shortly before your guests arrive

By Nici Wickes
  • 40 mins cooking
  • Serves 6
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  • 800 millilitre cream
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthwise or 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 4 tablespoon heaped caster sugar, plus extra for topping


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 150°C, then set out 6 ramekins in a roasting dish.
  • 2
    Heat the cream with the split vanilla pod until it reaches the trembling stage – do not let it boil.
  • 3
    While this is heating, whisk the egg yolks with the caster sugar until pale and creamy.
  • 4
    Remove the vanilla pods from the cream. Use a knife to scrape the seeds back into the cream.
  • 5
    Add the hot cream in a steady stream to the egg/sugar mixture, while whisking, until combined. Work quickly.
  • 6
    Pour the mixture right to the top of each ramekin. Make a water bath by pouring boiling water into the roasting dish, around the ramekins, so the water level comes up to 2/³ of the sides of the ramekins. Carefully transfer to the oven.
  • 7
    Cook for about 30-40 minutes to set the crème brûlée. They will still be slightly wobbly but on cooling, they will set more firmly.
  • 8
    Remove them from the water, cool completely, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate.
  • 9
    A few hours before your guests arrive, heat the grill to very hot. Sprinkle 1 tsp caster sugar evenly over each custard, place under the grill and watch carefully until the sugar begins to bubble, turn to toffee and burn. Refrigerate again to chill and serve when ready.


  • Makes 6 x 150ml ramekins. - For a nice surprise, place a teaspoon of drained canned berries (boysenberries work well) in the base of each ramekin before filling them with custard.

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