Nectarine Crème Brûlée

Crème brûlée is one of those super fancy looking and wonderfully indulgent desserts that is actually quite easy to make.  I made it a little more involved but the basic process is still about the same.  For our letter N in the alphabet food challenge I decided to make a nectarine flavored crème brûlée.  Now the easy way to go would be simply adding puree to the custard, but then it might not be the same dessert.  Crème brûlée has that utterly creamy and silky smooth custard beneath the shatteringly crisp burnt sugar layer, and that could be disrupted by the solids of the puree.  So for best authentic texture we infuse the cream with flavor first, and then proceed with the normal steps.

What's really cool about this dessert is that it is make ahead! You can have this done and in the fridge the night or even a full day or two before and just whip it out and brûlée the topping for an impressive end of dinner presentation in less than 15 minutes.

Yes, the water bath is necessary to get the correct texture.  I do highly recommend checking with an instant thermometer to decide, along with the jiggle, when to pull out the ramekins.  I ended up with absolutely perfect creamy texture that way.

Note that this dessert should be brûléed right before serving.  If it sits too long, the sugar will melt and no longer be hard and crackly.

This recipe won the hubby seal of approval, and he is quite finicky about desserts like this!

Nectarine Crème Brûlée
makes 4 servings

1½ cups whipping cream
½ cup whole milk
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
1 tsp culinary dried lavender buds (optional)
5 egg yolks 
3 ripe nectarines, divided (Use the ripest ones for the infusion the day before, the remaining will likely be perfect by the next day)

sugar for topping (¼ cup)

Dice one and a half nectarines, into medium pieces and add to the cream and milk in a saucepan.  (Seal up the other half nectarine and chill until ready to serve, or just eat it and have a spare for serving.)  Bring cream to just below a simmer, then turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30-45 minutes.  (If using lavender, add for the final 15 minutes of the infusion.)

Preheat the oven to 325ºF.  Set out four 6-oz. ramekins for the custard.  Fill a shallow baking dish or pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, and place in the oven.

Strain the cream through a fine mesh colander into a bowl or glass measure.  Lightly press on the peaches to get as much cream back as possible.  If necessary, add more cream to equal 2 cups again.  Return the strained cream to the pan, add the salt and sugar, and heat for just a few minutes to dissolve the sugar.

Whisk the egg yolks in a medium-sized mixing bowl until well combined, but without introducing air bubbles to the mixture.  Add a ladle of the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisk to combine and warm the yolks.  Slowly pour and stir the remaining milk into the yolk mixture.  Stir to combine, doing your best not to make it frothy or bubbly.

Pour the mixture into the waiting ramekins, diving the mixture equally.  Carefully transfer the dishes into the water bath in the oven.

I used a half sheet pan, a 9x13 works just as well.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the center is just set and still jiggly when moved.  (Instant thermometer should read 170ºF.)  Start checking at 30 minutes.  (My current oven runs very slow and they were done at 40 minutes for me).

Carefully remove ramekins from the water bath using tongs or heatproof mitts and place them on a cooling rack. Let them stand for 20 minutes, then transfer to the fridge to set for at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to serve:

Sprinkle the surface with 2-3 tsp of granulated sugar.  It should be an evenly covered dry layer with no custard showing but not be so thick that it will burn before melting.  Spread the sugar to the edges with a quick spin of the dish or a pastry brush to achieve a moderate layer.  Using a kitchen torch and sweeping or circular strokes, caramelize the sugar over the surface of the custard, making a relatively thin, hard crust.  Always keep the flame moving.  Let it cool and set for a minute before serving and cracking the caramel.  (The topping may also be melted under the broiler, watch it like a hawk so as not to burn.  The broiler method does tend to heat the custard, torch is preferred.)

Slice or large dice the remaining nectarines and arrange on one side of each custard.  Serve immediately.


Check out the rest of our letter N creations:



  1. My family loves creme brulee and I haven't made it in far too long. Thanks for the inspiration and the wonderful recipe.

  2. Oh my gosh! This sounds fabulous! I love that you used necterines!

  3. Love the whole idea of infusing nectarine the cream and milk mixture. And the lavender makes it exotic. A brilliant recipe.

    1. The lavender was very subtle and most noticeable in the plain infused cream. After making the custard, it was more just an enhancement of flavor. Hubby didn't even know it was there! Now I want to try different fruits...

  4. Your creme brulee looks perfect and your sugar is so beautifully done and shatters perfectly.

    1. I was so happy with having the instant thermometer to take the guesswork out of the process! Gauging "jiggle" is such a subjective thing!

  5. This sounds so easy and totally delicious.

  6. I'm a huge fan of creme brulee...and am always tempted when I see it on a menu. I've never had a nectarine version...and it sounds like absolutely delightful!!!

  7. I'm down for any excuse to break out the kitchen torch!

    1. They are pretty fun, right? LOL (Insert Tim Taylor grunting noises.)

  8. After banana cream pie, this is probably my husband's favorite dessert. I love the addition of ripe nectarines!

  9. So beautiful! Nectarine and lavender sound good. Pass me a cup please!


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