Crème Brûlée and Scotch

Lemon Vanilla Crème Brûlée… and Scotch

Crème Brûlée and Scotch

Personal Challenge time!! Crème Brûlée is one of my very favourite desserts, so I had to learn how to make it!

Kitchen torch in hand, I was all set!

This combo gave me an excuse to mix three of my favourite things right now: custard, Scotch and lemon zest powder.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed the running theme in my blog over the last year… I’ve been going through various desserts to see how they pair with single malt Scotch. For many years before, my ideal pairing was red wine and dark chocolate… but I didn’t think Scotch and chocolate fared quite as well. A lightbulb went off last summer, drinking Scotch while eating shortbread.

It all made sense – Scotch needed something sweet and creamy/buttery. I had a feeling crème brûlée would be stellar.

To make life a little more interesting, I decided to flavour my crème brûlée with vanilla bean and lemon zest powder. Ever since I saw this post on Chocolate and Zucchini, I’ve been making lemon zest powder and using it in random things (waffles, lemon sugar).

Lemon zest powder is just lemon zest that has been dried and ground into a powder. It smells amazing, and can be used in baked goods, sauces… and crème brûlée.

So how did it all turn out? I think it was a great first try. It was a little bit thinner in the centre than I would have liked (although the perimeter thickened quite nicely). I think I should have strained the mixture before baking – the lemon zest powder hydrates a little and puffs up. It wasn’t terrible, but it does detract from the creaminess of the crème brûlée. Luckily, it also settles to the bottom, so my whole dessert wasn’t full of bits.

Imperfect, but still soooo good!! It may actually be a little too easy, so I have to make sure not to run out and buy cream every weekend. 😛

Added bonus: I GOT TO PLAY WITH FIRE!!

Crème Brûlée and Scotch
Look into my eyes... what do you see?

Lemon Vanilla Crème Brûlée

Adapted from the recipe posted on Serious Eats.


  • 2 cups heavy cream (35% butterfat or more, also known as whipping cream)
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest powder
  • 1/3 cup + 6 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a large baking dish with a thin towel, and place ramekins on top. Set aside.
  2. In a small pot, heat the cream, vanilla bean (both seeds and pod) and lemon zest powder, stirring regularly. When little bubbles form, remove from the heat.
  3. In a mixing bowl (for stand mixer, if you have one), whisk together the egg yolks and 1/3 cup sugar until the mixture turns a pale yellow.
  4. Slowly pour in the hot cream (on medium-low speed, if using stand mixer) until thoroughly combined.
  5. Spoon custard evenly between the ramekins. Pour hot water into the baking dish until it covers half the height of the ramekins.
  6. Bake for about 35 – 45 minutes. About 30 minutes in, gently shake one of the ramekins to see how wobbly it is. When it is done, the edges should be set, but the rest should be pretty wobbly.
  7. Take out of the oven, and leave the ramekins in the water until it comes to room temperature. After that, cover each ramekin in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours.
  8. Just before serving, evenly sprinkle the top of each ramekin with a thin layer of powdered sugar.
  9. You can caramelize the sugar using a propane kitchen torch, or the broiler setting on your oven if you don’t have a torch. You want to heat the sugar only until it is golden, and not brown. You don’t want to actually burn the sugar. This will happen quickly, so keep an eye on it.
  10. Serve right away.

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