Crème Brûlée infused with Fresh Basil

I love everything about Creme Brulee (Crème Brûlée), the texture of the custard, the perfect little portions, the pleasure I get from cracking the crunchy caramel crust. Oh yeah, and also the French accent marks in the spelling.

My take on this classic French recipe is pretty simple but with a little twist. I infused the custard with fresh basil for just a hint of basil flavor. If you leave out the basil, you’ll get the traditional recipe so try that out first if you haven’t made Creme Brulee yourself.

Basil Creme Brulee Recipe

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (1 tsp. vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 sugar
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped basil
  • tiny pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar for caramel topping

    Heat oven to 325°F. Parboil cream in a saucepan over medium heat (small bubbles will form on the sides of the pan). If you decide to use whole vanilla beans, split in half and scrape seeds (see picture). Stir seeds into the cream. Toss in the scraped vanilla bean in the cream as well. Add chopped basil and stir and bring mixture to a low simmer. Remove from heat and let sit for about 15-20 minutes so the flavors infuse. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar into the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly add the basil/hot cream to the sugar/yolk mixture. Strain everything through a fine sieve into a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout to make the pour easier. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract (if using).

    Arrange four to six small ramekins in a deep-sided baking dish. Pour custard into the ramekins. Then fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with foil. Bake until just set, 30-45 minutes (custard should be slightly jiggly when you shake it). Important: your baking time will depend on the depth of your ramekins, baking dish and oven temperature, so make sure to start checking early! Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and keep ramekins in the water bath until cooled down, about 30 minutes. Remove and cover individual ramekins with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

    For the caramel crust:

    Sprinkle sugar evenly over each custard. Pre-heat broiler on high. Broil in oven for about 5 minutes or until sugar has browned. If you’re using a blowtorch, slowly sweep the flame back and forth about 3 inches away from the surface until the sugar melts and caramelizes into a shiny brown color. Garnish with fresh berries, or my current favorite, husk tomatoes if you can find them.

    Total Time: 90 minutes (plus 3 hours refrigerated)
    Yield: 4-6 servings

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    8 Responses to “Crème Brûlée infused with Fresh Basil”

    1. Kelly August 15, 2011 at 12:41 pm #

      Wow this looks fantastic, your pictures are gorgeous! So glad I found your blog, new follower! xoxo

      • Barb August 15, 2011 at 1:39 pm #

        Thanks so much, Kelly!

    2. Elizabeth of AsianinAmericamag August 17, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      Oh,we just love Creme Brulee here at home. I guess it’s because it’s almost similar to our favorite ‘leche flan’. But this is a great version of CB that you have. I love your photos ! Nice blog, I’ll be back soon for more!

    3. Caroline October 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm #

      Hey beautiful pictures!
      What size are your re skins?

    4. Adriana September 11, 2012 at 6:10 pm #

      I’ve been quietly following your blog for a while – anytime I want to fool my husband into thinking that I’m a good cook I pay you a visit ;-), but when I saw this recipe I just couldn’t believe it! I’ve had Basil-Creme Brulee in a (believe it or not) sushi place in NYC – just a tiny little place where we made friends with the sushi-man and he gave us this desert that he had made for the people in the kitchen.
      I can’t believe that I will be able to make it at home now!! My husband will have no choice but believe that I CAN COOK, hihi.

      • Barb September 11, 2012 at 11:58 pm #

        Hi Adriana – Thank you so much for your sweet comment 🙂 I loved reading your little story about Basil Creme Brûlée at a sushi restaurant, how funny! I’m really happy you found my recipe and you can now make it for your husband. Thanks for following me and please keep in touch!

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