icon Crème brûlée
from Commander's Palace Restaurant
in New Orleans

The history of Crème brûlée goes back as far as 17th century France to Franois Massialot, who was the chef de cuisine to, among other people, Philippe I, Duke of Orléans, the brother of Louis XIV. The name means "burned cream" because the surface is caramelized with a blow torch. The dish exists in Spain under the name Crema Catalana, and in Britain under the name Trinity cream. It consists of a rich custard base topped with a layer of hard caramel, created by caramelizing sugar with a butane torch or other intense heat source. Crème brûlée is usually served cold in individual ramekins.

In New Orleans, Crème brûlée is also one of the signature Creole dishes. Here is a recipe from Commander's Palace.


  • 10 egg yolks
  • 1 quart cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp purchased coffee paste
  • 3/4 cup raw sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream
  • Chocolate-covered coffee beans
  • 1 blow torch


  1. Place egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside.
  2. In heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine cream, sugar and coffee paste. Heat to 180 deg F.
  3. Pour cream mixture over yolks, stirring constantly. Strain.
  4. Pour mixture evenly into 6 - 8 oz. wide-rimmed bowls. Place in 200-degree oven and bake 20 min., or until custard is just cooked in center (outside will cook faster).
  5. Remove from oven, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  6. To serve, spread even layer of raw sugar over custard and burn with hand-held blow torch until sugar caramelizes but does not burn.
  7. Top each plate with dollop of whipped cream and sprinkle each with 3 chocolate-covered coffee beans. Serve immediately while sugar is still crunchy.

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Last updated: October 12, 2010
Photograph from Wikimedia Commons used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.