Creme brulees never go out of style in my book – especially when you’re making them at home so that you can put a twist on this very classic dessert! This Honey Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee recipe is a new favorite of mine. The silky smooth custard is sweetened with honey and vanilla bean, giving it a rich sweetness along with a wonderful floral vanilla flavor. The vanilla bean really pairs beautifully with the honey, making this dessert both delicious and decadent!
The custard is easy to make and uses heavy cream and whole milk as a base. The fat in the dairy is what makes this custard silky smooth and velvety, so this is one dessert where you don’t want to substitute lower fat dairy if you want to get the best possible results. The recipe starts by infusing the cream and milk mixture with vanilla bean. If you don’t have a vanilla bean on hand, you can use vanilla extract and stir it into the milk and egg mixture before dividing it into ramekins.
The custard is sweetened with both honey and sugar. Most of the flavor comes from the honey, and each honey has its own unique flavor, so be sure to choose a honey that you like. I like wildflower, orange and acacia for this recipe, but just give your honey a taste before you incorporate it into the custard to be on the safe side.
Bake your custards in a water bath, allow them to cool and then chill them before bruleeing the tops. I find that the best way to serve these is when the caramel layer on top is still slightly warm and the custard is cold, an effect that I get by using a kitchen torch to brulee the custard just before serving. For a perfect crust, try to use superfine sugar to create a thick and even layer of sugar on the cold custard, then use the torch in small circles to caramelize it without burning. If you’re not serving all the custards at once, store the extras for up to 2 days in the fridge and brulee just before indulging.
Honey Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee
1/2 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
hot water, for water bath
sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 325F. Arrange six 6-oz ramekins in a 9×13-inch baking dish.
Split vanilla bean and use the back of a knife or a spoon to scrape out the vanilla bean seeds. Add vanilla bean seeds and pod to heavy cream and milk. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean pod, then bring back to a simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, salt, eggs and egg yolks until well combined. Whisking constantly, very slowly stream the hot milk mixture in to temper the eggs. Strain mixture into a large measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout.
Divide mixture evenly into prepared ramekins. Place pan onto a rack in the oven, and pour boiling water into the pan around the ramekins so that water comes two thirds up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until custards are set and have only a slight jiggle to them. A very sharp knife inserted into the center of a custard should come out clean.
Carefully remove tray from oven and allow custards to cool in the water bath. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating, then cover with plastic wrap and chill completely before adding topping.
Custards can be prepared up to two days in advance.
For topping: Add about a tablespoon of sugar onto the top of each custard and spread into an even layer. Using a kitchen torch and moving it slowly, but constantly, caramelize the topping. Topping can also be caramelized under the broiler.
Allow caramel to set for a minute before serving.