I love crème brûlée but I’ve never made it before. I don’t think I’ve ever looked up any recipe to see how it’s made. Maybe subconsciously I thought it was too difficult because it’s got such a fancy name. Hah! How silly of me.
As you guessed it, crème brûlée seems like a fancy and difficult dessert but it’s actually super easy to make. What’s crème brûlée? It’s a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a layer of hardened caramelized sugar. As I discovered these past few days, you only need heavy whipping cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract to make it. Simple, right?! Yes!
Now, onto the three different cooking methods I used: microwave, oven, and Instant Pot.
You must be wondering why I made crème brûlée using three different cooking methods. You see while browsing Pinterest several days ago I came across Tastemade’s microwave crème brûlée video. They made it look so easy I figured it was time I finally try it. I think that was the first time I actually saw a recipe for crème brûlée, even if done in the microwave. What got me was getting this thing cooked in 4-5 mins in the microwave before letting it set in the fridge. I love it when I can make anything quick. So to work I went.
1. Microwave crème brûlée
I made Tastemade’s microwave crème brûlée as per their instructions but halved the recipe. I was going to be the only one eating it, so there was no way I could eat 4 or want to. I’ve never made crème brûlée before so I didn’t know what to expect. I mixed up the creamy mixture, pour it into the 2 ramekins, and let the microwave do its thing for 4-1/2 minutes. The results? A spotty, lumpy-looking top custard-like dessert (see photo below). I know, not the prettiest.
I didn’t think anything of it and let it cooled down before putting it in the fridge to set. A couple of hours later after the dessert was set, I sprinkled some sugar on top and torched it using my small kitchen torch. I was excited that it looked as I’d expected. It was visually stunning. But then once you dig in, you see that the texture of the custard is all wrong. It wasn’t silky smooth. Instead, it looked scramble-egg-like (you can kind of see it in the spoonful below).
I know, I don’t think you wanted to hear that. I even made the whole thing a second time around thinking maybe I’d messed up while microwaving it. But no, sure enough, I got the same results. I guess you can’t ask much from a microwave version. I will say though, oddly enough, if you overlook the look and texture, this version was actually pretty creamy and tasty. Maybe not top-notch or anything because it’s not melt-in-your-mouth silky smooth, but it was still really creamy.
Recipe/Cooking Instructions: Tastemade’s microwave crème brûlée
Takeaway: Hmmm… probably won’t use this method again even though the taste was there. I think I prefer my crème brûlée not only taste but also look the way it should, creamy and silky.
2. Oven crème brûlée
After feeling a little disappointed with my microwave crème brûlée, I googled up recipes to see how they were properly made. I looked through a few recipes and ultimately went with the New York Times‘ cooking instructions. I think at this point, I knew I was going to use the same mixture recipe I used in the microwave method, I just needed to know how you cook a proper crème brûlée.
Per the New York Times’ method, they ask you to bake your crème brûlée in a water bath in the oven at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes. I think I baked mine for 35 mins. When I took it out of the oven, I did a little happy dance inside because the top didn’t look like the microwave version. It was silky, smooth, and flat, just as expected.
After the crème brûlée set in the fridge and sugar torched, the end result was well worth the oven effort. It looked beautiful and once dug in, you got that silky smooth texture (see below) — nothing like the microwave version. It was creamy, silky, everything I expected this dessert to taste and more.
Cooking instructions: Vanilla crème brûlée Recipe – NYT Cooking
Takeaway: Most likely will use this method again. Probably selectively or when I feel like using the oven and doing the whole water bath thing.
3. Instant Pot crème brûlée
After having made crème brûlée in the oven, I snapped it to a friend. She asked if I made it in the Instant Pot and I told her no. I had not even thought to do that. Actually, I’ve yet to make much in my Instant Pot since having bought it last November. I’m a little slow to the game here.
So off to find instructions for cooking crème brûlée in an Instant Pot I went. I ended up going with The Kitchn’s version of cooking it at low pressure for 7 minutes, letting it natural release for 15 before taking it out. I also used the same mixture recipe as the previous two methods here.
Verdict? WOW. It is really, really, silky and smooth. If the oven version was silky and creamy, this one is even better! It’s like melt-in-your-mouth silky. And creamy, like really creamy good.
You must have guessed it now. This cooking method is the best of the three. I would totally make this again. Plus, it’ll be a good excuse to use my Instant Pot more. It’s so easy, you should definitely give it a try if you have an Instant Pot.
Cooking instructions: The Kitchn’s Instant Pot Crème Brûlée
Takeaway: I’d definitely use this method again the next time I make crème brûlée. It’s so easy and a few minutes quicker than the oven.
So there you have it. Three different cooking methods, one clear winner — Instant Pot! Will you give any of these a try? Let me know in the comments below.
Oh yes, stay tuned for my crème brûlée recipe I used for testing all three methods. Just gotta write it down so I can share it with you. It’s really good and super simple.
UPDATE: My Instant Pot crème brûlée recipe is finally up. Have a look and give it a try if you’re up for it. It’s so good and super easy to make, you won’t be disappointed.
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