Creme brulee is a dessert that we all love to indulge in from time to time. The delicate custard combined with a crisp, caramelized sugar crust is a match made in heaven. Often, creme brulees are served with a few berries and a sprig of fresh mint on the side. Berries go well with cream, so why not bake the berries right into the custard in the first place? This Raspberry Creme Brulee has fresh berries baked right into a vanilla custard, and it’s topped with a perfectly caramelized sugar crust.
While there are plenty of recipes where frozen and fresh raspberries can be used interchangeably, this is not one of them and you really need to use fresh raspberries here. The fresh berries hold their shape well during baking and don’t release too much liquid into the custard during baking, so you end up with tender berries and a silky-smooth custard. The custard is flavored with vanilla, which really contrasts well with the sweet-tart berries as you eat.
Creme brulees are often baked in shallow ramekins to allow for the maximum caramel-to-cream ratio. These dishes don’t work quite as well for this version of the dessert, since you really want the raspberries to be almost completely covered by the custard. Instead of shallow ramekins, use 6-oz or 8-oz ramekins for this recipe. You will be able to make 5 portions of the dessert and all of the ramekins should be filled equally, but it works well in both sizes.
After baking, allow the custards to cool to room temperature while in a water bath. This step not only allows the custards to cool gradually, but both the water bath and the ramekins are easier to handle once they have cooled down. The custards should then be refrigerated until well-chilled and they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (after that, the berries may start to leak some of their juice into the custard, causing it to become a bit watery in places, though it will still taste pretty good!).
You should only caramelize the sugar topping just before serving to ensure it has that perfect, shatteringly crisp texture. For best results, use a generous, yet even, layer of sugar and a handheld kitchen torch to melt and caramelize it. You can also caramelize the sugar under the broiler, but a kitchen torch is more precise (and fun to use) if you happen to have one available.
Raspberry Creme Brulee
1/2 cup sugar
5 large egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
30 fresh raspberries (approx 1 cup)
sugar, for topping
Preheat oven to 325F. Place 5 6- or 8-oz ramekins in a large baking dish (or two smaller baking dishes, if you don’t have one large enough).
Whisk together sugar, egg yolks, vanilla extract and salt until sugar is dissolved. Stir in heavy cream and milk until mixture is smooth. Allow mixture to stand for 5 minutes so that any bubbles can subside.
Place 6 raspberries in each ramekin. Divide custard mixture evenly between ramekins.
Fill baking dish with warm water (from the tap is fine) until it reaches 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until custards are set and jiggle only slightly when ramekins are nudged. Allow custards to cool to room temperature in the water bath, then remove them from the water bath and refrigerate until cold.
To serve: Top each custard with 3-4 tsp of sugar and turn the ramekin until sugar coats the top of the custard evenly. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.