The first printed recipe for a dessert called crème brûlée is from the 1691 edition of the French cookbook Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois by Francois Massialot, a cook at the Palace of Versailles. That version was a sweet custard of egg yolks and milk with a burnt sugar crust. It is similar to the modern versions.
- 300ml double cream
- 1 vanilla pod
- 3 egg yolks
- 15g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp demerara sugar
- Preheat the oven to 150C and put 2 small ovenproof ramekins in a baking tin.
- Pour the cream into a small, heavy-based pan and slit the vanilla pod in half lengthways.
- Scrape out the seeds and put the pod and the seeds into the pan with the cream.
- Bring to the boil over a medium-low heat.
- Meanwhile put the yolks and caster sugar into a medium-sized heatproof bowl and stir until just combined.
- When the cream begins to boil, remove the vanilla pod and then pour the cream on to the yolk and sugar mix, stirring constantly to mix.
- Divide the mixture between the ramekins and pour cold water into the tin until it comes two-thirds of the way up the ramekins.
- Bake for about 40 minutes until the custard is set – it should only wobble faintly when shaken.
- Cool and then chill until cold.
- Scatter the tops of the cold brulees with demerara sugar, and use a blowtorch or hot grill to caramelise the tops – if using a grill, you may need to put them back in the fridge for half an hour before serving to cool down again.