This traditional egg custard dessert usually consists of egg yolks, cream, bit of sugar, & vanilla, with a hard, toffee crust. This tasty combination is then cooked, transferred into small ramekins, poached in a bain-marie, and then well chilled.
The chilled custard dessert is typically set in wide, flat food dishes, & is then topped with a bit of fresh brown sugar which is either caramelized under a broiler or it’s with a blowtorch.
Origin of Crème Brulee
The origins of the Crème Brulee dish is quite unclear, and countries like England, Spain, & France all claim to have invented this sweet dish. However, most food and cuisine historians agree to this fact that custards were well-known as far back as the Middle Ages, and food recipes for custards circulated throughout the whole Europe for centuries.
The Spanish claim to have invented this dessert in the early 18th century under the name known as crema Catalana, while the English also claim that this dessert was their invention from the 17th century, when it was called burnt cream.
In the late 1800s, the French term the dessert crème brûlée became famous, putting the sweet dessert on the map from the whole of Paris to New York City.
Most people might assume that the dessert crème brûlée is a sweet dish of French cuisine – and fairly so, because the name itself actually means “burnt cream” in the French language! But as it turns out, France is only one of many European countries which say they came up with the coveted crème brûlée.
France claims that this was the first time when this sweet dish was introduced in the 1691 cookbook, called “Cuisinier royal et bourgeois,” by one François Massialot, a respected cook. So if this sweet dessert was first introduced, formally, by the French people about 300 years ago, then why are there still some questions as to its identity?
The actual problem lies in its historical penchant for yummy custard, like the one you will find under the sugary sweet crust of your crème brûlée.
Even if historical dessert custards, enjoyed in the famous medieval times, were not the same as the modern sweet crème brûlée, it is actually easy to see how different countries could – independently of one another – make quite a similar sweet dish & call it their own. Take, for example, the dessert Crema Catalana, the Spanish people take on a quite similar sweet dish.
Then there is also the claim of England’s Trinity College for crème brulee. There, in the late 19th century, the college-branded its school arms onto desserts for all the students, leading to what is now a sweet dubbed Trinity cream, or you can call Trinity burnt cream.
Perhaps the creamy dessert lacks an official original identity because, until recent few years, no one was actually rushing to claim this sweet dish! It was at that time not viewed as a special mainstream dessert (at least, not a famous one) until it got the modern creamy taste and became one of the favorite sweet dishes in the United States in the late 1980s.
The Creme Brulee Today
Because Crème Brulee reintroduction to mainstream tradition and culture, the crème brûlée dessert has been actually nothing less than a force of nature, spawning a number of offspring & reproductions.
From the most sophisticated restaurants, hotels to any grocery store, the crème brûlée dessert has made an incredible little impression on the American people.
Now there’s crème brûlée flavored ice cream as well, donuts, french toast, and even coffee creamer is available in the stores. Though this dessert is widely available wherever you go, the reality is the original one remains the best.
Recipe: Classic Traditional Creme Brulee (How To Video)