I first met with crème brûlée (a.k.a. burnt cream) almost 10 years ago when traveling through France. After a nice dinner that included fish of some kind, I wished for a dessert that would be vanilla flavored, as I’d always been quite crazy about vanilla (nothing wrong with chocolate, though). So the last page of the menu offered exactly the thing for me. And what a dessert it was! I would never really get it out of my mind … A couple of years would pass before I tried making my own homemade version. For too long I’d thought it would be too complicated to prepare it myself … Turned out, it really wasn’t.
I didn’t live a low-carb lifestyle back then, so I would only prepare this dessert on most special occasions for it was so full of fat and sugar. Today, I represent you the ultimate keto version of crème brûlée. I’ve tried to keep it as close to the original as possible, so I still use heavy cream (which does contain a couple of grams of carbs), but I replace the sugar with erythritol. The custard consistency is very close to the original, one only needs to settle for the fact that the topping (caramelized “sugar”) doesn’t behave exactly like sugar, but it can be made crispy enough, and still does the job very well in the end.
I consider this dessert to be one of the most romantic ones out there. Might be because it takes me back to the approaching summer evening in France and the dinner with candles. Hopefully, you can conjure up the same image. Why not help yourself with a nice glass of French wine?
Split vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape its seeds into the saucepan, then add the pod. Heat gently on medium temperature just until the mixture starts to bubble a little (around 7 minutes).
In the meantime, whisk the egg yolks with remaining erythritol and salt. Use a large mixing bowl and an electric mixer. Mix until the mixture gets pale yellow.
Start adding the hot cream mixture into the yolk mixture. It might be best to use ladle. You want to prevent the eggs from curdling, that’s why you need add only a small amount of cream at first, and whisk to combine. Next, add two ladles of cream mixture, one at a time, and whisk after each addition. Continue in the same manner, until you mix in all the remaining cream mixture.
Strain through a fine sieve into a large cup. You want to get rid of the vanilla pod and any bits of cooked egg, but try to force the vanilla seeds through the sieve.
Pour custard into baking dishes. Place the roasting pan in the oven.
Pour enough boiling water in the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.
Bake until custards are set (around 35 minutes). When shaken, they should tremble slightly in the middle. Don’t let them get too firm.
Remove dishes from hot water and let them cool on a wired rack for up to 30 minutes. Then, cover them with a foil and place them in the fridge for at least 2 hours (overnight is best).
Before serving, sprinkle about ½ tbsp of powdered erythritol over each creme brulee. Use a blow torch to caramelise it. Erythritol will not caramelise as well as sugar, but it will do the job well enough to offer a similarly crispy experience.
If you don’t own a torch, you can use a broiler, but watch really closely for when the topping is melted. It is advised that you put the creme brulees in a freezer for 15 minutes prior to caramelising, to make sure the custards remain cold after “bruleeing.”
Let the creme brulee sit for a couple of minutes before serving. Enjoy every bit of it!