Creme Brulee Ice Cream

Every so often a dessert comes into your life and you think: This is my favorite. That is how I feel about this ice cream.

Years ago I formulated a recipe for Creme Brulee Ice Cream.  I remember looking around for the perfect recipe, wanting to put my own twist on it.  I ended up caramelizing sugar and pouring it onto a silpat-lined baking sheet, then breaking the hard caramel into shards to stick into the ice cream before serving.  It was delicious, but the brittle was a little hard to eat.

That was before my friend Wendy gave me a culinary torch for my birthday in 2008 (I think it was.)  Everyone should have a torch in their kitchen.  They are a lot of fun to use and come in handy every so often.

One day I was trying to decide how to use up the almost dozen egg yolks in my fridge.  (Why so many egg yolks, you ask?  My son and one of my daughters prefer egg white-only fried eggs.  So, extra yolks.) My mind drifted back to this ice cream and I wondered if I could make it again and improve it.

The answer was YES.

I did it.  It was perfect in every way.
The freshly churned ice cream is divided into ramekins and frozen until firm.  Then each one is sprinkled with a little raw sugar and torched. Oh, how I love watching the sugar melt into caramel.

The top shatters with the tap of the spoon, and underneath is the most velvety ice cream you can possibly imagine.  It doesn’t melt into a puddle like other ice cream.  Oh, no.  All those egg yolks make a thick custard that remains thick and luscious as it melts.

I’m telling you this:  It’s worth every single calorie.

Creme Brulee Ice Cream

Original recipe


2 cups very cold heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
10 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla or 1 vanilla bean, split
pinch salt
10-12 tsp. raw sugar
equipment needed:  culinary torch


Beat egg yolks, sugar and salt together until thick and light in color.  Heat milk with vanilla bean, if using, until very hot.  Add to the eggs and sugar in a slow, steady stream.  Pour back into pan and cook over medium-low heat until it reaches 170-180 degrees F.  (Be really careful not to let it curdle!)  Pour through a sieve into a clean bowl.  Add the cold cream and vanilla extract, if using.

Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Or to speed up the chilling process, use an ice water bath.*  Churn in an ice cream  maker according to manufacturer directions.  Divide the ice cream between 10-12 small freezer-proof bowls or ramekins, leaving a little space at the top.  Press a bit of waxed paper on the surface to make it smooth and flat.  Transfer to the freezer.

To serve:
Remove ramekins from the freezer about 10 minutes before serving and allow to soften a bit at room temperature.

To caramelize the sugar:
Sprinkle top of each ramekin of ice cream with 1 tsp. raw sugar.  Use a torch to caramelize the sugar.  Serve.

**You can prepare and ice water bath buy using two nesting bowls. Just make sure that the bowl holding the ice water is large enough to accommodate the bowl with the custard. You want most of the custard bowl to be submerged in ice water so the custard can cool sufficiently. Or you could also fill your kitchen sink with ice and water.

I like to use a large glass bowl to hold the ice and water, and my stainless steel Kitchenaid mixer bowl to hold the custard. The metal gets much colder, much faster than glass.

The colder you let the custard get, the faster it will freeze and the smoother it will be.

In case you were curious–here’s the picture from the first time I made this recipe. :)

If you want to make brittle instead of caramelizing the sugar on top, boil together:  1 cup sugar, 2 Tbsp. water, and 1 Tbsp. corn syrup.  Cook until deep golden brown, washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush if any crystals form.  Pour onto a baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment paper, or has been brushed with vegetable oil.  Tilt the pan, being careful not to burn yourself, until the caramel is in a thin layer.  Let it cool completely and break into shards.

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27 Responses to “Creme Brulee Ice Cream”

  1. Jenni January 26, 2007 at 3:17 am #

    oh, mama! 10 egg yolks good!

  2. Ingrid July 25, 2009 at 3:13 am #

    Oh, boy this looks like a good one.

    I never heard back from you in response to my email (question). Just wondering…. it’s okay if you’re not ready to share your frozen marshmallow (sorta)ice cream yet but I’d really love to give it a try! :))

  3. Amy June 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Oh my word! Two of my favorites combined. Just wow.

  4. {natalie} June 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    this looks so amazing. i want to make ice cream right now! or creme brûlée for breakfast. yummmm.

  5. jess @ lost button studio June 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    This looks sooooo good…

  6. Emily June 20, 2012 at 5:50 pm #

    Holy crap, I need this RIGHT NOW.

  7. Kristen @ The Endless Meal June 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    Brilliant idea! And gorgeous photography too :)

  8. Shawn @ I Wash...You Dry June 21, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    Oh. My. Word. Looks gooooood!

  9. brighteyedbaker June 21, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    I don’t have a kitchen torch :( but I plan to get one someday, so I’m saving this recipe for that time. Creme brulee ice cream sounds PERFECT, and I love the idea that it’s thick even as it melts! Thanks for figuring this one out for all of us.

  10. Averie @ Averie Cooks June 21, 2012 at 1:50 am #

    clicked over from FG

    STUNNING tack sharp, razor clarity images. WOW

    Just read your about…from NY to Utah. Gotta love small moves like that :)

  11. Anonymous June 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm #

    can’t wait to try it!

    could you please tell me where you found those adorable glass ramekins?

  12. Rachel Willen June 23, 2012 at 12:14 pm #

    I just ran to put my ice cream freezer in the freezer so I can make this for a dinner party tonight! Looks amazing! Will cool off everyone after my cocoa-spiced ribs.

  13. MyKidsEatSquid June 23, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    I’ve always wanted a torch for my kitchen too! I’m not a huge creme brulee fan, but this looks like it goes beyond the ordinary variety I’ve sampled.

  14. Becky June 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

    Dude. This is the next ice cream recipe I’m trying.

  15. Emil July 23, 2012 at 9:25 am #

    OMG, tis creme ice cream looks amazing! I love creme brulee and never had the idea of making ice cream… wonderful pictures, perfect recipe!

  16. July 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    These look amazing! I love creme brulee!

  17. Lindsey Johnson July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm #

    Thanks for all of the comments, everyone! :)

    The little glass ramekins came from my mother-in-law. She occasionally buys frozen creme brulee (ready at a moment’s notice!) and then we reuse the ramekins. Aren’t they adorable?

  18. Serina July 25, 2012 at 5:43 pm #

    Is there any problem with the ramekin cracking or breaking from the heat of the torch after being frozen? Or is the 10 mins out of the freezer enough to prevent problems? Any other non-breaking secrets?

  19. Lindsey Johnson July 25, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    That’s a great question, Serina.

    I know this glass is fine when it comes to freezing and torching just because it was designed for that purpose commercially. I kept the torch at a safe distance from the surface just to be sure. I’m thinking (but this is just my opinion) that if whatever ramekin you use is oven-proof, a few seconds under the torch won’t cause it to crack. I’ve also done this exact ice cream in a ceramic ramekin and it was just fine. I was a little worried, too, but it held up just fine. Just be careful not to touch the top after it’s been torched because it does get hot. Again, this is just my opinion, but because the ramekin is filled with frozen ice cream, I think it’s less likely to crack. If you took an empty glass ramekin from the freezer and then exposed it to extreme heat, I’m pretty sure it would shatter. The same goes for the opposite–hot to extreme cold.

    Hope that helps! Feel free to e-mail me at cafejohnsonia (at)gmail (dot) com if you have any other questions.

  20. The Omnivore August 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm #

    I love this idea! It’s like ice cream brulee.

  21. Cathy Haven Howard October 11, 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    I travel miles for a good creme bruele and same for ice cream. Need to put on my wish list the torch and the containers. Closest I ever got to this wss asking a restaurant to put Creme Bruele liqour on ice cream.Thank you!

  22. wordchef October 21, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

    What an awesome idea! You had be at Brulee… I have recently been toying with homemade ice creams, and this one will definitely be on my to-do list!

  23. Jani November 22, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Love this idea. Brent has been making créme brulée for 30+ years. My fav is his maple. But ice cream? Perfect!

  24. Sine February 26, 2013 at 10:47 am #

    I think I’ll have to try this one out.. :D Thanks for sharing!

  25. Ms Lemon of Make Mine Lemon May 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    I pinned this. ButterYum blogged about this and if it is good enough for her I just had to check it out. She is a fabulous cook.

  26. Patricia Reitz May 8, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    just stopping by to let you know I made your recipe and blogged about it – but it looks like ms lemon beat me to it :). excellent recipe. bravo!!

    hope you’ll stop by for a visit.


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