January 23, 2010

Amélie & Crème Brûlée

"Amélie Poulain cultive un goût particulier pour les tous petits plaisirs. Elle aime plonger sa main au plus profond d’un sac de grain... briser la croûte des crèmes brûlées avec la pointe de la petite cuillère... et faire des ricochets sur le Canal Saint-Martin..."

One of my favorite movies happens to be Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain. It's a charming movie with an adorable love story, plenty of humor, witty dialogue, wonderful little details sprinkled throughout, beautiful background colors, a lovely cast (with the delightful Audrey Tautou starring as Amélie), and an enchanting music score.

      [Photo Credit: Top right and bottom left images taken from the movie Amélie]

So, why am I singing praises about this film on a baking blog? Well, a memorable thing about Amélie is that Amélie Poulain likes cracking the caramelized sugar crust on the top of crème brûlée with the back of a tiny spoon. Breaking into the top of crème brûlée really is wonderful, from the sound of the cracking to the textural contrast between the rigid sugar shell and the luscious custard underneath.

There are also two more super reasons for making crème brûlée. One, it's simple and only requires a few ingredients. And two, you get to play with fire: torching the sugar is the best part! So next time, instead of going out and ordering crème brûlée at a restaurant, try your hand at making it from scratch. Oh, and if you haven't seen Amélie yet, definitely rent a copy sometime as well :D.

Crème Brûlée
adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sugar (for the crème brûlée tops)

Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place six oven-safe bowls or ramekins (each should be able to hold 3/4 cups of liquid) on top. In a bowl, mix the egg yolks with the 1/3 cup sugar and the vanilla extract. Pour the milk and cream in a saucepan and set on the stove over medium heat. Once boiling, remove from heat.

While whisking the egg/sugar mixture, slowly pour in about 1/4 of the hot milk and cream mixture to temper the eggs (you're warming them up so they don't curdle when the rest of the hot liquid is poured in). Continue whisking as you pour in the rest of the milk and cream. Rap your bowl against the counter to get rid of some of the bubbles. Now evenly strain the mixture into your six ramekins.

Bake the custards for 50-60 minutes, or until the centers are set (they should no longer wobble when the baking tray is moved). Remove the custards from the baking sheet onto a cooling rack. Let them cool to room temperature. Then, cover the tops of the baking dishes with plastic wrap and place them all in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (I like to make them the night before and chill them overnight).

When ready to serve, remove the custards from the refrigerator. Evenly coat the top of each custard with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Now torch the sugar until it browns and bubbles. (Alternatively, the crème brûlées could be broiled in the oven at a high heat for a very short time, but they must be watched very carefully because sugar burns very quickly and easily.) Once the tops are carmelized, eat immediately.

Makes 6.


  1. I love the movie Amelie and I love Creme Brulee even more. Thanks so much for visiting my blog. Yours is very cute.

  2. Loved the movie and I love my little tool:)Yours looks like it works so well also:)

  3. i heart creme brulee ...and ur photo's look super delish :)

  4. Trader Joe's Creme Brulee comes in that exact same dish.

  5. Hi, I like to invite you to http://www.tasteandshare.com, a food & wine social network, where you can share photos, videos and a link to your own blog.

  6. A cupcake or two: Definitely, Amelie and creme brulee are both awesome. Thank you for visiting my blog :).

    La Table De Nana: Using the little blowtorch is the best part of making creme brulee, hehe.

    B&D: Thanks!

    goshiluvu: Hehe, I was wondering if anyone would notice. A couple years ago, my mom bought some creme brulee from Trader Joes. When she saw that they came with their own dishes, she went back and bought some more. Now we have a whole stack of those cute orange dishes in our cabinet that I've been reusing when I make creme brulee. But I think TJ stopped selling them sometime ago? Last I checked they have creme brulee in a little bowl of chocolate...

    Peter: Thanks for sharing. I'll definitely check it out soon!

  7. did you make more?! :) ahhh i wish you could ship some down here~ hahaha.

  8. Mel: Yup, I made some for my mom's friend. Shipping creme brulee seems quite impossible, considering it needs to be eaten within an hour after torching cuz the sugar will unharden. Too bad :(. Plus it'd probably be really expensive cuz of refrigeration. I shall make you something yummy next time I see you :).

    Tiffany: Yeah!

  9. I'll make this next time I watch Amélie. I wish I had this torch...

  10. JojoKrang: Hehe, I hope you do! Watch Amelie and make creme brulee that is. Torches are cool, but if you need an alternative, if you can get your hands on a copy of Dorie Greenspan's Baking: from My Home to Yours (possibly from the library if you don't own a copy), there are instructions for caramelizing the sugar with a broiler... something involving placing your baked creme brulee on ice.

  11. I love Amelie but was always more intrigued about her famous plum cake. I still search for a recipe from time to time but haven't found one to taste the way I imagine it should.

  12. Robin: Originally when I posted this, I did consider baking a plum cake, but then I realized that it was still January and plums weren't in season :(. I've wanted to make either of the two plum cakes in Dorie's Baking: from My Home to Yours though because they look and sound pretty good.

  13. I love Amelie! It was the very first movie I bought on DVD. Would love to make this, have to invest in a torch though.

  14. Sarah: Yeah, that's the thing about creme brulee, getting a torch. But once you have it, making it is a piece of cake.