Sumptuously creamy White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with deliciously fruity berries hidden within. A naturally gluten free, easy to make perfect dessert.
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White Chocolate Crème Brûlée – A queen among desserts
White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Berries is the perfect end to a meal at GFHQ. An absolute queen among desserts, it is creamy, smooth and sweet. Yet it is also tangy and fruity from the secret berries that hide within its sumptuous, silky interior. Topped with a crunchy caramel layer, the excitement of cracking through with a sharp tap of the spoon is hard to contain.
Indeed, my love of Crème Brûlée is such that it even graced the table of my wedding… A Strawberry Crème Brûlée to end a fabulous celebratory meal. A decadent choice that was light enough to manage, yet lavish enough for the occasion. Truly a star on the menu.
What is Crème Brûlée?
At its most basic, Crème Brûlée is simply baked custard… Definably luxurious in texture, but still nonetheless ‘baked custard’. It is however, always served cold… usually in individual ramekins. And always topped with a characteristic crunchy caramelised sugar layer. The pleasure in smashing through the surface is part of the joy of eating.
The caramel surface of a Crème Brûlée is usually added just before serving for a contrasting warm crunch against the cold smoothness below. A sprinkle of sugar on the top, carefully browned with a culinary blow-torch or a closely watched grill is all it takes to produce magic.
The history of Crème Brûlée
I always thought we had the French to thank for Crème Brûlée. But it seems that its history is a little less clear.
Ever fascinated by the origins of the recipes we love, I turned to the Google encyclopaedia in the sky and did some research. What I found was a surprise. An article in Saveur suggested that yes… The first printed recipe for a dessert with the name Crème Brûlée appeared in a 1691 French cook book (Le Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois, by Francois Massialot). Indeed, the ingredients are pretty much as we make it today.
However, that is not where the story ends… It appears that 15th Century Englanders were cooking up something described as “burnt cream,” much earlier… A sweetened pudding “topped with sugar that’s been burnt with a hot iron” (Ref: British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History). And in Spain, the equally similar ‘Crema Catalana’ apparently dates back to the same medieval period.
Who knows? But the fact that it has endured and remains so loved today, places it in the list of classics that should be in every home-cook’s repertoire.
Why Crème Brûlée is great for Coeliacs
As a Coeliac family, it’s always a relief when eating out to find either Crème Brûlée, or (my other favourite creamy desserts) Panna Cotta and Chocolate Mousse on the menu. Since they rarely contain any gluten ingredients in a standard recipe, they have a reasonable chance of being safe to eat. Of course, you always get the odd chef choosing to adulterate with something nasty, but they’re mostly good. And better still, it means not having to eat the obligatory gluten free Brownie!
Is White Chocolate Crème Brûlée easy to make at home?
On the other hand, my White Chocolate Crème Brûlée is so easy to make, you really don’t need to hold out for a restaurant that offers it. This dessert can be made at home with little fuss. It’s literally whisked egg yolks and sugar, blended with heated cream before being baked in a water bath.
Tips for making the perfect White Chocolate Crème Brûlée
Preparing the Custard
- Crack and separate the eggs carefully… Egg white doesn’t belong in a Crème Brûlée and you only want the yolks. If you aren’t a confident cracker, use an Egg Separator and even then, I would recommend cracking (individually) into a separate small bowl before transferring.
- Choose a quality white chocolate. It needs to melt easily and blend fully. Be sure the chocolate contains cocoa butter and no nasty additives. I usually use Green and Blacks Organic White.
- Heat the cream slowly over a low heat and stir continuously. The white chocolate needs to melt and blend little by little.
- Do NOT allow the cream to boil in the pan… Stop heating when tiny bubbles just start to appear at the edges, indicating simmer point.
- Use a good quality, high-powered electric whisk.
- And… when whisking the egg yolks with the sugar, don’t stop until the mixture is truly thick and pale. Tilt the bowl if necessary to allow the mixture to ‘pool’ and whisk.
- Add the hot cream slowly while keeping the whisk running continually. And whisk well until fully blended.
- Absolutely be sure to use a fine-mesh sieve (I use a tea strainer) to strain the mixture into the ramekins. This will catch any grainy and eggy bits and limit the froth.
Cooking and Serving
- Don’t forget to use a water-bath (bain-marie) to bake the custard. Place the filled ramekins into a roasting tin, before carefully adding boiling water to the pan round the ramekins. This ensures adequate moisture in the oven to prevent cracking and for the custards to bake slowly and evenly.
- Bake until the Brûlée is set with a very slight jiggle in the middle.
- Cool the Crème Brûlées in the water bath for about 30 minutes before removing to a flat tray to be chilled completely.
- For the best crunch and contrast of warmth against cold custard, caramelise the sugar just before serving.
With berries or without? Making Strawberry Crème Brûlée and Raspberry Crème Brûlée
White Chocolate Crème Brûlée is amazing just as it is… But for a stunning contrast both in flavour and colour, why not add some berries? For a tangy Raspberry Crème Brûlée, simply pop 3 or 4 raspberries in the base of the ramekins before adding the custard batter. For Strawberry Crème Brûlée cut a medium ripe strawberry into cubes and do the same.
Berry Brûlées are a little bit extra special… The pretty red fruit hidden within offers a surprise gift and gives the dessert a romantic hue. Perfect for Valentine’s Day.
Can I make White Chocolate Crème Brûlée ahead of time?
Absolutely. Crème Brûlée is a dessert that needs to be made ahead, so that it has time to chill. Then, all you need to do is sugar and caramelise the top ready to serve.
Crème Brûlée with Berries – the perfect dessert for all occasions
It is hard to think of an occasion when White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Berries would not be a fitting dessert. Whether dinner parties, weddings or a simple Sunday Lunch, it always goes down well. At GFHQ, it is a favourite Christmas dessert, but equally, it is a perfect Summer pudding… Rich and quite decadent, but not overly-heavy and full of summer berryness. This is one to be made often and enjoyed in all seasons.
Ready to make White Chocolate CRÈME BRÛLÉE?
Let me know how you get on if/when you make this delicious Crème Brûlée. Leave a comment or tag me on Social Media with your stories of yumminess. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are good places to find me.
For lots of other gluten free kitchen inspiration, head over to our Recipe Book Index… Feel free to drool. I’m not watching!
How to use the left-over egg whites…
And if you are wondering what on earth to do with all the egg whites left over after making Crème Brûlée, we have you covered there too.
Be careful to keep them pure when cracking and save them in an airtight container in the fridge. Pop a sticker on the top with how many are in there, ready to make one of these yummy treats…
White Chocolate Crème Brûlée with Berries
- 4 to 5 ramekins
- Small saucepan
- tea strainer/fine sieve
- medium roasting tin
- 40 g white chocolate good quality – chopped (see main post)
- 300 ml/g double cream (aka heavy cream)
- 3 egg yolks UK large egg size (Canadian extra large/US extra large/Australian Jumbo)
- 30 g caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g fresh berries raspberry/strawberry/blueberry
- caster sugar/ light soft brown sugar for sprinkling
- grated white chocolate for decoration (optional)
Making the baked custard
- Pre-heat the oven to 170 C/325 F/Gas 3 and get ready your ramekins.
- Mix the chocolate and cream together in a small saucepan and gently heat, stirring, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture just reaches simmer point.
- Take off the heat and set aside to cool slightly, stirring occasionally.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla extract until thick and pale.
- Whisking continuously, slowly add the chocolate-cream liquid and whisk until thoroughly blended.
- Boil a kettle of water ready to cook the brûlée.
- Place 3 to 4 raspberries/blueberries or a trimmed, cubed/sliced strawberry in the base of each ramekin.
- Strain the brûlée mix through a tea strainer or small sieve into the ramekins so that the liquid covers the raspberries, almost to the top of the dish.
- Place the ramekins in the base of a roasting tin and carefully pour boiling water into the tin to surround the ramekins to about half way up the sides.
- Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes until very nearly set. The edges will be completely set but the centres will have a very slight wobble when the pan is nudged.
- Remove from the oven and cool in the water bath for about 30 minutes.
- Then carefully lift the ramekins from the water and place them on a flat sheet pan or tray.
- When cool, cover the brûlées (with clingfilm or place in a large airtight container) and chill for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight.
To top with caramelised sugar
- Just before serving, sprinkle the top of each brûlée with a teaspoon or so of caster sugar.
- Using a culinary blow-torch or by placing under a grill set at low, heat, melt and caramelise the sugar to create a caramel sugar crust. If using the grill, keep a VERY close eye and frequently turn the brûlées for an even heat. If using a blow-torch, concentrate the heat on a small area of sugar until it melts, bubbles and lightly browns, then quickly move onto the next area, until all the sugar is browned.
- Top with fresh raspberries/blueberries or a strawberry and a sprinkle of grated white chocolate and serve.
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