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


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C and put 2 small ovenproof ramekins in a baking tin.
  2. Pour the cream into a small, heavy-based pan and slit the vanilla pod in half lengthways.
  3. Scrape out the seeds and put the pod and the seeds into the pan with the cream.
  4. Bring to the boil over a medium-low heat.
  5. Meanwhile put the yolks and caster sugar into a medium-sized heatproof bowl and stir until just combined.
  6. 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.
  7. Divide the mixture between the ramekins and pour cold water into the tin until it comes two-thirds of the way up the ramekins.
  8. Bake for about 40 minutes until the custard is set – it should only wobble faintly when shaken.
  9. Cool and then chill until cold.
  10. 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.