• Citrus Creme Brulee

Citrus Creme Brulee

Creme Brulee is an all-time favorite dessert of….well almost everybody.  There is just something about that thin, crunchy layer of caramelized sugar as it cracks beneath the weight of your spoon and that smooth, creamy custard that lies just beneath.  I am so hungry just thinking about taking that first delectable bite!

This Citrus Creme Brulee version is from my cookbook – The Savory Gourmet.  I did not do a step by step version of this when I first created it but the full recipe is below.  I really like the flavor of the citrus infused into the cream and think it gives this traditional dessert and interesting twist.  But you can always omit the citrus and just do a plain creme brulee if you prefer.  Nothing wrong with that!

One of my favorite things about this dessert is that it feels lighter than some other options like cake.  I love cake but sometimes after a big meal it’s just too much.  And this paired with a nice after dinner drink to sip on makes the perfect cap to an intimate Valentines Day dinner in.

If you’ve never made creme brulee before don’t fret.  It’s one of the easier desserts to make keeping a few tips in mind.  First of all when you are infusing the cream with the citrus you are heating it up.  Let that cream cool down a bit before adding the egg yolks or the yolks will curdle. And trust me there is nothing worse than a chunky creme brulee.

Secondly, there is that water bath.  Slowing cooking the cream and egg mixture in a ‘bath’ of hot water is how you achieve such a silky smooth texture.  It’s much easier to place the ramekins in the water bath, filled half way up the cups, and THEN add in the creme brulee mixture to bake.  Doing it the other way around makes it pretty darn easy to get water in the creme brulee because that’s just the way it goes.

Finally, you can use a torch to caramelize the sugar on top or you can just place the baked creme brulee under the broiler and watch it carefully.  The creme brulee itself can be fully cooked and refrigerated ahead of time. Then just do the crunchy, caramelized topping right before serving.

Any leftovers?  How about serving for breakfast the next day.

Creme Brulee for Breakfast

citrus creme  brulee

Citrus Creme Brulee for Breakfast

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Citrus Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 15 mins
Bake Time: 20 mins + 3 hours to cool
Serves: 4 people


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or seeds from a vanilla bean
  • Zest of 2 naval oranges
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 6- 1/2 inch strinps of orange zest (for garnish)
  • 6 - 1/2 inch strips of lemon zest (for garnish)
  • superfine sugar for crust
  • pinch of salt


  1. In a heavy bottomed sauce pan (cast iron enameled preferred) heat the cream with the salt, vanilla and grated zests over low heat for at least 20 minutes, making sure it doesn't get too hot. This will infuse the cream with the citrus flavors.
  2. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve over a bowl to separate the cream from the zest and discard the zest. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  3. In a standing mixer whisk the egg yolks and sugar over medium high until pale yellow in color. Approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to low and slowly add in the (slightly cooled) infused cream. Whisk for 30 seconds.
  5. Fill a large rimmed baking dish with the empty ramekin dishes and fill with water until the water level reaches about 1/2 way up the ramekins. Carefully pour the cream mixture into the ramekins until they are filled almost to the top. Bake for 35 minutes or until just set on top but still a bit jiggly in the middle.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool for a few moments and then remove from the water bath to a cooling rack. Once slightly cooler (about 15 minutes) cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to overnight.
  7. When ready to serve top each creme brulee with 1 teaspoon of superfine sugar and burn with a torch or under a broiler. Then dip the slivers of orange and lemon rind in the superfine sugar and do the same. Place the caramelized orange and lemon rinds on top for garnish.

Additional Info

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