Surprisingly simple and elegant, this orange liqueur and cardamom crème brûlée is one of my all-time favorite recipes. The warm cardamom, bitter orange liqueur, and caramel-y brown sugar make it the perfect dessert for a cozy date night at home.
There are two things in life that I will never believe I am doing right. The first is a messy bun. And the second is crème brûlée. While the first is a little more forgiving in that messy buns are *supposed* to be messy – albeit, the perfect level of messy – the second is less so. I’m not going to lie to you, there are like, a lot ways to mess up crème brûlée, and I always think that I’ve royally screwed up until I take the first bite.
In you aren’t convinced, here are a few reasons why to attempt crème brûlée this autumn: 1. It looks fancy af, and people will find you v impressive. And 2. It’s also romantic af for at-home date nights, a.k.a. the best kind of date nights to have once it starts snowing. This recipe is somewhat based off of the crème brûlée that my mom made growing up. It has orange liqueur and a brown-sugary lid. Mine also has cardamom, because I wanted to add some warmth to the recipe. I also wanted to add some orange zest, but I forgot to buy a damn orange at the store 🙄. However, if you wanted to add a teaspoon or so of orange zest, I don’t see how that could go wrong. (And if you don’t feel like zesting an orange, this crème brûlée tastes amazing as-is!)
A note on this recipe: Like I said, there are ways that crème brûlée can go wrong. If you Google any crème brûlée-related issue, it’s going to be a lot like Googling symptoms on WebMD. That is, the food forums will tell you: you’re crème brûlée is going to die, sorry!!! For example, my crème brûlée almost always comes out bubbly. When I Googled it, forums claimed that I had overbaked the crème brûlée. So, on the next batch I took them out a few minutes earlier, and they were severely undercooked. The bubbly ones were perfect. That said, potential problems may be actual problems, or it just might be how you make crème brûlée. Either way, don’t be intimidated, and follow your crème brûlée truth ✌️
A few tips, just because I think they are helpful!
- Use room-temperature eggs. I like doing this so that the eggs don’t scramble when you add the hot cream!
- You want to mix everything thoroughly, but don’t overly-whisk it. It will be bubbly but should not have too much air.
- Use shallow crème brûlée ramekins rather than the deeper ones. The deeper ramekins allow for uneven cooking.
- Place the ramekins on the sheet pan in the oven, and then add the hot water with a tea kettle. Trying to place a sheet pan filled with hot water in the oven is a disaster.
- Remove each ramekin from the oven using a large spatula. I like using my grill spatula, and again, you don’t have to remove a pan full of boiling water from the oven.
- Lastly (I think??), I really recommend using a torch for the sugar. You can technically use the broiler, but it’s sketchy. Also, I like the flavor and texture of brown sugar, although it does result in some uneven torching. You can use regular sugar for a nicer presentation!
That’s it! You’re ready to brûlée 😛
Orange Liqueur & Cardamom Crème Brûlée
Orange Liqueur & Cardamom Crème Brûlée
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 pt heavy whipping cream
- 1 vanilla bean (or 2 tsp. vanilla extract)
- 2 tbsp orange liqueur
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (or more, to taste)
- 6 tbsp brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 300* F. You will also want to start boiling a large kettle of water. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl until thick and pale yellow (about 3 minutes).
- Next, (if using) split open the vanilla bean, and scrape out the seeds. In a small saucepan, combine the vanilla seeds, vanilla bean, and heavy whipping cream. Heat over medium, and let the mixture simmer for two minutes. Remove from heat, and allow the mixture to infuse for another two minutes (infusion is not necessary if you are not using a vanilla bean). Remove the vanilla bean, and discard.
- Slowly add about half a cup of the vanilla-cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking vigorously to avoid scrambling the eggs. Once tempered, slowly whisk in the remaining vanilla-cream mixture until frothy. Add the orange liqueur, cardamom, and vanilla extract (if using).
- Divide the mixture between six ramekins. Place the ramekins in a 9×13 cake pan or a deep baking sheet. Place in the oven, and immediately pour the boiling water in the pan, around the ramekins, avoiding getting any water into the actual crème brûlée. You will want the water to come up about halfway on your ramekins (this will keep the crème brûlée from becoming sweet scrambled eggs).
- Bake, checking for doneness around 30 minutes. When the crème brûlée is finished, it will be jiggly, but not liquidy. This may take up to 50 minutes depending on the depth of your ramekins, but do not let the crème brûlées brown. When they are finished baking, remove the crème brûlées from the oven by sliding a large spatula under each ramekin. Let them cool at room-temperature for about 30 minutes, and then refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Before serving, sprinkle each crème brûlée ramekin with 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. Using a torch, brown each crème brûlée until the sugar is melted to your desired level (I like mine very caramel-y, hence the dark brown spots). Alternatively, you can do this under a broiler in the oven, watching it very carefully and pulling it out right when the sugar melts. Serve with whipped cream and berries, if desired!
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: I’m Just Snacking by Gus Dapperton