Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee for Two

4.62 from 57 votes
45 minutes
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Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee for Two is the perfect sweet ending to any special meal you make at home! This sinfully rich heavenly dessert is easy to make at home and can be made well ahead of time.

“I made your creme brûlée recipe a couple of years ago and it’s by far the best creme brûlée I’ve EVER eaten! I’m spoiled because restaurants don’t compare to this!”

Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries and blueberries.

Special Equipment Notes:

Creme Brulee requires some special equipment. You’ll need:

Why This Recipe is a Keeper!

Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee (French for “burnt cream”) is the BEST Creme Brulee! It looks and tastes complicated with the sinfully rich, velvety-smooth custard and crusty, caramelized sugar topping.  However, it’s easy to make yourself and perfect for an intimate, romantic dinner for two at home.

This Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee recipe for two people is:

  • Easy to make with only five basic ingredients! Once you get the hang of making Vanilla Creme Brulee you’ll love serving it for all your dinner parties and special occasions. Pulling out the kitchen torch to caramelize the tops is great theatre and entertainment!
  • Make ahead! After baking and thoroughly cooling, vanilla creme brulee can be refrigerated for two days prior to caramelizing the sugar and serving.
  • Luscious and lovely and your sweetheart will be so impressed!

Let’s make it!

Two dishes of Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries adn blueberries.
Two dishes of Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries and blueberries with sugar scattered over the surface.

How to Make Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee for Two:

Recipe Ingredients:

Here’s everything you’ll need to make Classic Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee for Two along with how to prep the ingredients. See the recipe card below for the exact quantities.

Ingredients for Classic Creme Brulee for Two in glass bowls.

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions:

  • Heavy Cream: Be sure to use heavy cream, not whipping cream. According to government labeling standards, heavy cream is to be no less than 36% milk fat. Heavy cream is sometimes referred to as heavy whipping cream. In contrast, whipping cream has a slightly lower milk fat content, ranging from 30–36%. It is sometimes called light whipping cream. Again, be sure to use heavy cream.
  • Egg Yolks: You’ll need three egg yolks from large eggs (not medium, not jumbo).
  • Granulated Sugar: Use regular granulated sugar to sweeten the Creme Brulee. You can also use it to caramelize the top, but I highly recommend using turbinado for that purpose because of the texture.
  • Vanilla Bean: A vanilla bean is a splurge, but it’s so worth it! Vanilla beans are available in the spice section of most grocery stores.  While they are a splurge, using a vanilla bean delivers a true, intense vanilla flavor. You only need to use half a vanilla bean for two servings, so you have another half remaining for another purpose or two more servings of Creme Brulee. A teaspoon of real vanilla extract can be substituted. Avoid imitation vanilla flavor.
  • Turbinado Sugar: Turbinado sugar is the product of slightly processed sugarcane. It’s a delicious, more natural sweetener with large, crunchy crystals and a mild caramel to-molasses flavor that’s perfect as a topping for Creme Brulee. Turbinado sugar is sometimes incorrectly labeled as “raw” sugar however it is lightly processed. As mentioned above, you can use plain granulated sugar on top, but the turbinado adds a lovely, crunchy rustic touch.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

  • Gather and prep all the ingredients.
  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place a rack in the center of your oven.
  • Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and keep that off to the side until needed.
  • In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer over high heat just until bubbles begin to form around the edges. (It does not need to fully boil.)
  • Cut the vanilla bean in half widthwise then one of the halves in half lengthwise. (Reserve the other half for another purpose or another two servings of Creme Brulee.)
  • Secure the tip of the vanilla bean half on a flat surface such as a cutting board with one hand and with a paring knife in your other hand, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean half. (Most of the seeds will remain on the knife.) Drop them into the hot cream.
  • Repeat with the other half of the halved vanilla bean and drop the seeds and scraped pod halves into the cream. Give the cream a quick stir to loosen all the seeds. Remove from heat and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • While the infused heavy cream is cooling, combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale yellow and thick, approximately 4 minutes.
  • Place a fine mesh sieve over the bowl with the egg and sugar mixture.
  • Strain the vanilla-infused cream mixture into the egg mixture.
  • Press on the vanilla bean and scrape as many seeds as possible that may adhere to the sieve into the custard mixture. Whisk lightly until smooth without whipping too much air into the custard.
  • Place a paper towel on the bottom of a baking pan or sheet pan large enough to hold the two ramekins. (This keeps the ramekins from slipping.) Set the ramekins on the paper towel.
  • Fill each ramekin with even amounts of the custard mixture.
  • Pour the boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the side of the ramekin, being careful not to splash any water into the mixture.
  • IF USING A SHALLOW CLASSIC CREME BRULEE RAMEKIN AS SHOWN: Bake for 30 minutes or until set but still slightly loose. Gently shake the pan. The custard should wobble/move slightly but you should be able to very lightly touch the top of the custard without getting any on your finger. Keep in mind all ovens vary. The custards will firm up as they cool.
  • IF USING A DEEPER RAMEKIN: You’ll need a deeper pan such as a cake pan instead of the rimmed baking sheet as shown. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until set but still slightly loose. Again, the custard should wobble/move slightly. Keep in mind all ovens vary. The custards will firm up as they cool.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes.
  • Transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to cool completely.
  • MAKE AHEAD: To store longer than 2 hours, cover the top of the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. If any condensation occurs on the surface after the custards cooled, carefully dab it off with a paper towel.
Baked creme brulee before sugar topping is added.
  • Once the custards have cooled, sprinkle the top evenly with turbinado sugar. Using a propane torch or kitchen torch, carefully brown the top to caramelize the sugar to form a hard candy coating. Guide the flame of the torch back and forth until the top is caramelized to your liking. Cool thoroughly before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh berries and serve!
Two dishes of Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries and blueberries with small bowl of sugar.

How to Make Creme Brulee with Vanilla Extract:

  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  • Warm the heavy cream as you would using a vanilla bean and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Whisk the eggs, granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract until pale and thick as shown above.
  • Starting with a tablespoon or two, very gradually add small amounts of the warmed heavy cream to the eggs, gently whisking after each addition. This is called “tempering” the eggs. You don’t want to add all the cream at once or you could scramble the eggs.
  • Place in ramekins and proceed with baking in the hot water bath and the other instructions.

How to Make Vanilla Creme Brulee Without a Torch (Broiler Method):

To make Creme Brulee without a kitchen torch, you’ll need to caramelize the sugar under the broiler. This can be a little trickier than using a kitchen torch, but it’s very doable.

  • IMPORTANT: Do not preheat your broiler; start with a COLD oven.
  • Place a rack in the highest position in your oven. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet on the rack then turn on the broiler.
  • Let them sit under the broiler as it heats.
  • Broil for 3 to 5 minutes. They may take less time or more time so keep an eye on them. (My broiler heats up fast and my test Creme Brulees were caramelized after 3 1/2 minutes.)
  • Rotate the ramekins once so that they broil evenly.
  • Take them out when they are golden brown and bubbling. Keep in mind the ramekin is going to be very hot!
  • Let them cool. They can be served after they’ve cooled at room temperature.
  • It’s traditional to serve Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee cold so you may wish to refrigerate them for about 30 before serving. Any longer and the sugar crust will begin to soften.

Chef Tips and Tricks:

  • Cutting the whole vanilla bean in half through the middle rather than cutting it in half lengthwise allows you to use the other half for another purpose. The small opening created by cutting it in half through the middle prevents the tiny seeds from drying out.
  • Avoid using an electric mixer to beat the egg yolks and sugar to the thick, creamy and pale stage as that will incorporate too much air.
  • Placing the ramekins on a baking sheet when caramelizing the top with your broiler will enable you to turn them more quickly.
  • While a kitchen torch seems like a splurge, they can be used for numerous tasks such as fire-roasting tomatoes or peppers, melting cheese atop a dish or toasting and melting marshmallows for S’mores.
One dish of Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries and blueberries.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How far ahead can Vanilla Creme Brulee be baked?

Creme Brulee is the perfect dessert to prepare ahead of time. Once they have cooled completely, place plastic wrap over the top so they don’t absorb the flavor and aroma of the other food in the fridge. Store in the refrigerator for 2 days.

Why do you bake Creme Brulee in a water bath?

Also referred to as a bain-Maire, the hot water distributes the heat evenly through the egg custard. If you were to put the ramekin dishes into the oven as they are, the custard can split and may turn grainy.

What are other ways to flavor Creme Brulee?

While vanilla is classic, you can also try using chocolate, coffee, Kahlua and various liqueurs such as Grand Marnier or Calvados, bourbon, coconut, lemon,

How many calories are in Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee?

Creme Brulee is definitely not a diet or light and healthy dessert. Each serving of this version has almost 600 calories.

One dish of Classic Creme Brulee for Two on sugary surface garnished with red raspberries and blueberries.
Two dishes of Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries and blueberries with spoon breaking into one of the dishes.

Storage:

  • Store in the refrigerator with the sugar uncaramelized for up to 2 days. If the sugar has been caramelized, Creme Brulee will still store fine in the refrigerator but the sugar will soften up. Still good, though!

Serve with this lovely menu for two:

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Classic Creme Brulee for Two garnished with red raspberries and blueberries.

Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee for Two

4.62 from 57 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Classic Vanilla Creme Brulee for Two is the perfect sweet ending to any special meal you make at home! This sinfully rich heavenly dessert is easy to make at home and can be made well ahead of time.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Desserts
Cuisine French
Servings 2
Calories 586 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Turbinado sugar - or granulated sugar for topping
  • Fresh berries - for garnish, if desired

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place a rack in the center of your oven. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and keep that off to the side until needed.
  • Bring cream to a simmer over high heat in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges. (Does not need to fully boil.)
  • Cut the vanilla bean in half widthwise then one of the halves lengthwise. Scrape the seeds from both halves of the halved pod into the cream then add the vanilla bean pieces. Give it a stir and remove it from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • While the cream is cooling, combine egg yolks and sugar in a bowl and beat until pale yellow and thick, approximately 4 minutes. Place a fine mesh sieve over the bowl and strain the cream mixture into the egg mixture. Press on the vanilla bean and scrape as many seeds that may adhere on to the sieve into the custard mixture as possible. Whisk lightly until smooth and blended.
  • Place a paper towel (this keeps the ramekins from slipping) on the bottom of a baking pan or sheet pan large enough to hold the two ramekins. Set the ramekins on the paper towel then fill each ramekin with even amounts of the custard mixture.
  • Pour the boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the side of the ramekin, being careful not to splash any water into the mixture.
  • Bake for 30 minutes or until set but still slightly loose in the center. Check after 30 minutes. (The custard should still wobble and move slightly.)
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
  • Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to cool completely.
  • Once the custards have cooled, sprinkle the top evenly with turbinado sugar. Using a blow torch or kitchen torch, carefully brown the top to caramelize the sugar to form a hard candy coating. Let that cool before serving.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD: To store longer than 2 hours, cover the top of the ramekins with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days. If any condensation occurs on the surface after the custards cooled, carefully dab it off with a paper towel.
IF USING A DEEPER RAMEKIN: You’ll need a deeper pan such as a cake pan instead of the rimmed baking sheet as shown. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until set but still slightly loose. Again, the custard should wobble/move slightly. Keep in mind all ovens vary. The custards will firm up as they cool.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 586kcal | Carbohydrates: 30g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 50g | Saturated Fat: 30g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 410mg | Sodium: 45mg | Potassium: 141mg | Sugar: 29g | Vitamin A: 2117IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 112mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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4.62 from 57 votes (51 ratings without comment)

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45 Comments

  1. Hey! I just popped these in the oven but accidentally slipped with the water and probably a tablespoon splashed into one of the brûlée’s — I made four just in case but any recommendations or what the worst case scenario will be for that one brûlée?!

    1. Hi, Natasha, Thanks so much for your question and OH NO! Wasn’t able to get back to your question because of Christmas. How did it work out for you? Hoping all went okay!

      1. It went okay! The only thing that really happened was that one tiny spot where water fell didn’t fully set, so the centre, but everywhere else it was fine! I should also note, that luckily the taste was still SUPERB and not watered down like I thought it would be! Making this recipe again, because it is BY FAR the best recipe I’ve come across!!

      2. Hi, Natasha, Thanks so very much for checking back in! Glad it still worked out and you’ll be making again! Thanks again!

  2. How long do I cook for I have deep one cup ramekins last time a made a different recipe it was cooked on the outside and runny in the middle.

    1. Thanks so much for your question. 1-cup ramekins are awfully large for creme brulee but I would bake for 50 to 60 minutes. The creme brulee custards are done baking when they are set but still wobbly so you’ll need to keep an eye on them. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!

  3. I’ve used this recipe several times. The real vanilla bean is definitely the key. I’ve also added a half teaspoon of coffee extract for more depth. It was fabulous! I use deeper ramekins and add about 20 minutes, checking on them often. I’ve never had a miss. Great recipe…thanks!

    1. Hi, Kelly, Thanks so very much and so glad this recipe is a keeper for you! Love the idea of adding a touch of coffee flavor. Am definitely going to try that! Thanks again!

    1. Hi, Robyn, Thanks so much for your great question! You can get everything assembled before baking up to 1 day ahead then refrigerate covered/wrapped. You can bake and refrigerate up to 2 days ahead. Leave caramelizing the sugar for just before serving. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

  4. This is the best recipe for small batch creme brulee! My only variation is that I baked them for about 20 mins longer because I used deeper ramekins. The surface did get bubbly and golden from baking them longer, but when you brulee the sugar you can’t tell the difference anyway. Thank you!

  5. What size ramekins did you use? I used the ones that came with my torch and I had extra custard left over. The torch came with four 3 oz ramekins, I filled all four and still had extra custard.

    1. Hi, Ashley, Thanks so much for your question. The ramekins I used are 7-8 ounces; they’re the ones shown in the photo. I would be able to fill them with about 5 ounces of liquid to where they’re manageable to place in the oven without spilling. If you used 3-ounce ramekins, then you probably filled with 2.5 or 2.75 ounces. The cup of heavy cream would account for 8 ounces. Three large egg yolks are generally 1.8-2 ounces. The sugar should not increase the volume by very much because it dissolves. So, 10 ounces of liquid is about right and perfect for two 6-ounce ramekins. Did you use extra-large egg yolks? Thanks again for your question and I hope you enjoyed!

  6. 5 stars
    I made your creme brûlée recipe a couple years ago and it’s by far the best creme brûlée I’ve EVER eaten, I’m spoiled because restaurants don’t compare to this! Excited to pull this recipe out for Valentine’s Day, thanks for sharing!!!

    1. Thank you SO very much, Noelle! You really made my day and I can’t tell you how much your comment means to me! Hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart! Thanks again!

  7. 5 stars
    This looks fabulous. I have vanilla beans but I don’t have turbinado sugar. Can I just put regular white sugar in the food processor?
    This is my all time favorite dessert. My kids enjoy caramelizing the sugar on top using a butane torch. 🙂

    1. Hi, Jane, Thanks so much for your question. Yes, you can use regular sugar. The turbinado sugar adds a little more crunch in the topping because it’s more coarse. Thanks again and hope you enjoy!