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What is the best sugar for creme brulee?

What is the best sugar for creme brulee?

Creme brulee’s signature is that crisp, caramelized crust that sits atop the delicate custard. You make it by sprinkling on a layer of sugar, then caramelizing it with the flame of a kitchen torch. If you’ve made creme brulee, before you may have run into a common problem with this straightforward-sounding step. Sugar that is in too thin of a layer won’t caramelize into a crisp crust. Sugar that is too coarse will not caramelize easily, leaving you with uncooked sugar at the top of your brulee or with a slightly melting custard beneath a topping that needed too long under the torch.

The best sugar for topping off a creme brulee is superfine sugar. Its tiny crystals caramelize quickly and easily. You can find it at most grocery stores, but if you can’t, regular sugar is your next best bet because it is also relatively fine in texture. Brown sugar is too moist and clumpy and raw sugars tend to be far too coarse. If you have a large-grained sugar that you would like to use, give it a whizz in the food processor to break down some of those crystals and make it more like regular or superfine sugar, then use it to top off your brulee.

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9 Comments
  • the wicked noodle
    March 18, 2010

    This is a timely post for me as I’ve been wanting to try making creme brulee at home! Thanks for the tip 🙂

  • Penny Wolf
    March 18, 2010

    Thank you for the post and your site! Just to mention I have used brown sugar but it is first sifted and spread out to dry on a sheet pan.It dries out quickly and then you could put it in a blender/food processor. I did not do the processor but it worked fairly well sifting it.

  • Stephanie @ CopyKat.com
    March 18, 2010

    I never thought of using superfine sugar to make creme brulee with. I will give it a try soon. It makes perfect sense that it would melt better than regular sugar. Thank you for the insight.

  • lisi
    March 19, 2010

    when i worked at the boston harbor hotel – we would leave brown sugar out – overnight – in a sheetpan to dry out. that mixed with white sugar – for the top of the creme brulee was the best i ever had. had to share…

  • lisi
    March 19, 2010

    and we would push it through a sieve first…

  • Radhika Vasanth
    March 21, 2010

    Thanks for this tip. I have been dying to make creme brulee ever since I had this in a restaurant.

  • Entertainmet
    April 12, 2010

    it is first sifted and spread out to dry on a sheet pan.It dries out quickly and then you could put it in a blender/food processor. I did not do the processor but it worked fairly well sifting it.

  • when i worked at the boston harbor hotel – we would leave brown sugar out – overnight – in a sheetpan to dry out. that mixed with white sugar – for the top of the creme brulee was the best i ever had. had to share…

  • watch splice online
    May 21, 2010

    I never thought of using superfine sugar to make creme brulee with. I will give it a try soon. It makes perfect sense that it would melt better than regular sugar. Thank you for the insight.

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