Citrus Crème Brulee

11:30 am on 26 April 2011

Rowan Bishop’s Vegetarian Kitchen, published by Bateman

Crème Brûlée is a classic dessert that never strays far from favour, for the very good reason that few of us can resist the combination of a crisp toffee coating over cool, creamy custard.

In this version, orange and lime juices are reduced to intensify their flavours without diluting the texture of the custard, and lime gives the orange just the right amount of torque. Substitute fresh lemon juice for the lime if necessary, and soya milk may be substituted instead of the cream if a non-dairy option is preferred.

Quick, straightforward and impressive, this brûlée can be assembled the day before; all that’s needed in terms of equipment are half-cup (125 ml) ramekins. Although a micro-torch is fun, it’s really not essential as long as you have access to a hot grill.

Serves 4 (or double the quantities to serve 8). Not suitable to freeze


  • ½ cup fresh or pure orange juice
  • juice of 2 limes (about 4 Tbsp)
  • 2 cups (500 ml) cream
  • 1/3 cup caster sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp caster sugar per ramekin


Preheat the oven to 170˚C.

Combine the orange and lime juices in a small saucepan and reduce over a medium–high heat until only ¼ cup remains.

While the juices reduce, heat the cream and sugar in a second saucepan to just below simmer point to dissolve the sugar. Don’t let the mixture actually simmer, though. Meanwhile, pour about 5 cm hot water into a roasting pan or ovenproof dish and place in the oven.

Reserve the whites from five eggs (they can be frozen), and place the yolks in a medium-sized bowl. When the juices are reduced and the cream/sugar mixture is hot, whisk the juices and the cream mixture alternately into the yolks, whisking continuously.

Strain the mixture if you wish, although this isn’t strictly necessary. Divide between four half-cup ramekins and transfer to the dish of hot water in the oven. The water level should come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake at 170˚C for 35–40 minutes, until the custards have firmed but still have some ‘wobble’. Take the pan from the oven but leave the ramekins in the hot water for 10 minutes before removing.

Cool, then cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until needed.

Just before serving, evenly sprinkle two teaspoons caster sugar over the top of each brûlée. Either place the ramekins under a very hot grill, or use a micro-torch to scorch the sugar until it melts and begins to bubble. This can take 1–3 minutes, depending on how close the sugar is to the flame. The sugar will harden very quickly as it cools.

Serve as is, without any distraction, or with fresh berries and/or a smidgen of crème fraîche or whipped cream.

Suggested wines to complement this recipe

Chenin Blanc
Millton Clos de Ste Anne Chenin Blanc 2009

Dessert Wine
Quartz Reef Methode Traditionelle Rose 2010

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