This lavender crème brûlée is a delicious twist on the classic dessert. It's made with lavender-lemon infused cream whisked into egg yolks and topped with burnt sugar.
Recently, I found myself with a lot of extra eggs, cream, and milk.
It seemed pretty clear what needed to happen.
Crème brûlée, of course.
You see, I'd been looking for an excuse to use more of the dried lavender in my pantry.
This lavender crème brûlée is a delicious, herbal twist on the classic French dessert.
What Is Crème Brûlée?
Crème brûlée (or burnt cream) is a creamy custard dessert made with eggs, cream, milk, and sugar.
It's topped with a hard "burnt" sugar crust.
If it looks or sounds intimidating, don't worry, I'll walk you through each step.
Crème brûlée isn't complicated, but it does take a little time to prepare.
I recommend reading through the entire recipe in full before beginning, and make sure to allow yourself enough time to make it without rushing.
If you’re looking for other classic French recipes, I also recommend checking out these recipes: fish meunière (fish in butter sauce), ratatouille, gratin dauphinois (scalloped potatoes) French onion soup, and French crêpes (or gluten-free crêpes or vegan crêpes).
Cooking With Lavender
This recipe uses dried culinary lavender.
If you're growing lavender in your herb garden, you can cut it back, dry it, and use the lavender flowers in this recipe.
If not, you can buy dried lavender online.
When cooking with lavender, remember that a little goes a long way. Don't add more than the recipe calls for.
Do I Need Special Kitchen Tools?
You do absolutely need ramekins (small, oven-safe dishes).
You can also buy shallower crème brûlée dishes which are meant to mimic the classic crème brûlée serving dishes.
You might want a butane kitchen torch, but you don't have to have one. If you don't have a torch, follow the directions in the recipe card to use your oven's broiler instead.
How To Make Lavender Crème Brûlée
Start by heating cream and milk until it comes to a boil.
Remove it from the heat immediately, and stir in the lavender.
Cover the pot, and let the lavender steep in the cream for at least 30 minutes.
Next, strain out the lavender.
Add lemon zest to the milk and cream mixture, and rewarm.
Next, in a separate large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla.
You don't need to whisk for a long time, just until the eggs and sugar are blended together.
Begin slowly drizzling in the warm cream and milk, whisking constantly as you pour.
Whisking is really important. If you don't whisk as you pour, the warm liquid could scramble the eggs.
If you accidentally do scramble some of the eggs, simply strain them out before proceeding.
Place ramekins in a large baking dish, and pour the custard mixture into the ramekins.
Pour hot water around the ramekins into the baking dish, taking care not to splash water into the custard.
Bake the custards until the center is set but the outer edges aren't.
Remove the baking dish from the oven, and carefully remove the ramekins from the water.
Let the custards cool to room temperature, and then move them to the fridge.
Chill them for at least three hours or up to two days.
Make sure the custards are cold to the touch before moving onto the next step. The sugar won't harden properly if the custards are warm.
How To Make the Burnt Sugar Topping
When the custards are cold, it's time to add the sugar topping.
Sprinkle about a tablespoon of sugar on each custard. Swirl the sugar around to make the sugar coat the top evenly.
Use a butane kitchen torch to heat the sugar until it begins to bubble. The sugar will harden into a glass-like top within a minute or two.
Serve these lavender crème brûlée right away.
When you dig in, your spoon will crack through the warm, crackly sugar top, and scoop up cold, creamy custard. Try to get a little of the warm sugar topping with each bite.
Lavender Crème Brûlée
- 4 - 6 ramekins
- 1 quart water for water bath (amount approximate)
- 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender
- 1 lemon (zest only)
- 3 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons sugar (or more, use ~1 TB per ramekin)
- fresh berries or sliced stone-fruit (optional)
- Preheat oven to 300ºF. Begin boiling water in a tea kettle (or in a small pot).Use a microplane grater to zest the lemon. Take care to only remove the zest, and not the white pith.Add cream and milk to a pot and heat over medium heat. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.Add the lavender. Cover the pot and set aside to steep. Steep for at least 30 minutes (or overnight). For a longer steep, move cream to the fridge.
- Strain lavender out of the cream. Add the lemon zest and rewarm the milk.
- In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk until combined but not airy.
- Slowly begin whisking the warm milk into the egg mixture. As you pour, continue whisking constantly. (This will help keep the eggs from cooking.)
- Place 4-6 ramekins into a large baking dish. Divide the batter between the ramekins. Skim off any large bubbles.Carefully pour the hot water into the casserole dish, taking care not to splash water into the ramekins. Add water until the water-level reaches halfway up the ramekins.
- Bake about 50-60 minutes, until the centers are set.Remove the custards from the baking dish and set aside to cool. Once they've reached room temperature, move the ramekins to the fridge.Chill for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days. (The sugar won't caramelize as well if the custard isn't cold.)
- Just before serving, sprinkle about 1 tablespoon of sugar evenly across the top of each custard.Torch method:Use a kitchen torch to burn the sugar by moving the torch slowly across each custard dish. The sugar will darken and bubble up. Allow the bubbles to subside and the sugar to harden before serving. The sugar will harden within just a minute or two.Broiler method:Optionally, set the custards in a shallow pan filled with ice. (This will keep the custard cold while broiling.)Move an oven rack to about 4" below the broiler, and preheat the broiler to high. Move the custards under the broiler, and watch carefully until the sugar browns and bubbles. The timing will depend on your oven. Gas broilers may work in seconds, electric broilers may take several minutes. Remove from the broiler immediately.
- Optionally, top with fresh berries or sliced stone fruit. Serve the crème brûlée immediately.