Published March 23, 2012 by mspatissiere

The Accidental Chef

A custard is a custard is a custard. Or is it? In the pastry kitchen, very specific definitions apply to different custards  and, if you have ever wondered what the difference is between a creme brulee and a creme caramel, here is a little primer.


A brulee (burnt cream) is an egg and milk based custard heated on the stove, strained and baked in a hot water bath in individual brulee dishes (which tend to be wide and short). Once cold, and before being served, it gets covered in sugar that is quickly torched thus creating a thin and hard caramel layer on top. The same effect can be achieved by sliding the brulee under a broiler for a few seconds, although the result won’t be as even as the one obtained with a torch. Its origins are murky but indisputably French. The classic creme brulee is vanilla flavored…

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