lime-vanilla crème brûlée

Whenever I order crème brûlée out at a restaurant, I always kick myself for not indulging in it on a more normal basis at home. Because, in reality, making crème brûlée is really quite simple. You mix and heat up ingredients, combine some more, and then bake it in a water bath and light it on fire. There’s no complex measuring, or hand kneading, or shaping or anything that you can really mess up. And when I made this on Sunday night, I once again kicked myself… but hopefully that will incite a reminder to make this more often than not!

This flavor of crème brûlée is quite refreshing and yummy, and a perfect accompaniment to any cuisine that would use lime (i.e. Cuban, Mexican, Southwestern, etc). In fact, you can use the juice for your main course after you’ve zested for this recipe!

Just a note… make sure that you prepare this AHEAD of dinner time, as it does need to cool multiple times and set up in the fridge/freezer as well!


Lime-Vanilla Crème Brûlée
Adapted from Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill Cookbook


3 ½ cups heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
Grated zest of three limes
1 Tahitian vanilla bean (split lengthwise and seeds scraped)
7 large egg yolks
1 whole egg
½ cup superfine sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Turbinado sugar or other raw sugar – for the top of the crème brulee
Combine the heavy cream, milk, lime zest and vanilla bean paste and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Once simmering, remove it from the heat, cover it and let it sit for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Return the pan to the stove and bring the mixture to a simmer. At the same time prepare 2-3 cups of water in a pan to boil on high heat.

In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, and salt until pale yellow in a medium sized bowl.

Now, temper the hot the cream mixture and egg mixture and mix until combined and then strain the mixture into a large bowl.


Place your ramekins/glass bowls in a large glass Pyrex baking pan (9×13) and ladle the cream mixture into the ramekins. Take the boiling hot water from the stove and fill your Pyrex pan about halfway up the sides of the ramekins with a water bath.

Put them in the oven and bake until the custard is set around the edges but still jiggly in the center, which is about 40 to 45 minutes.

Remove from baking pan and let cool to room temperature, then cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator until cold, about 4 hours and preferably 24 hours. (You can also use the freezer for a quicker set… about 2.5-3 hours)


Now it’s time to preheat the broiler or whip out your butane blow torch!

Sprinkle an even coat of turbinado sugar over each brulee until covered, and shake off any excess. If you like the super thick sugar layers, then add one more layer of sugar on top!

If you’re using the broiler, place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil until the sugar is completely melted and dark golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from oven, and serve immediately.

If you’re using a torch, just wave the flame back and forth over the sugar as it lightly melts. When you get the dark brown spots, it’s getting burnt, so move on from that spot.