Candy cane crème brûlée

My affection for custard is well-documented. I made this on Sunday, for no particular reason aside from the fact that I just wanted some. It’s still winter (faux-spring if you live in Toronto) which means it is still candy cane season and adding crushed candy canes to my crème brûlée seemed like a good idea.

Good to know before you start:

If this is your first time making crème brûlée, fear not! I have covered this before. Read my earlier posts about my first time making it, and my pumpkin flavoured variety to see the technique in action. You’ll need to make a water bath, and a kitchen torch.

Time required: 2 days

Yields: 6 portions

Cost per serving: $4.59

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $27.59

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • mesh strainer
  • 6 ramequins
  • baking pan: 9″ x 13″
  • a dish towel you don’t mind getting wet
  • fire-proof surface (ie: marble slab or glass cutting board)
  • awesome kitchen torch™


  • 2C heavy cream, room temperature
  • 5 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • half of one vanilla bean, split & scraped
  • ⅛ TSP fine sea salt  (normally I use table salt but I was out)
  • ⅛ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 TSP demerara sugar per portion (do not add until serving)
  • 1 crushed candy cane


1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F / 162°C, using centre rack.  Fill kettle with water and simmer for later.

2. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add cream, cinnamon, and vanilla bean (pods and shell). Heat on LOW until scalded then remove from heat.  When scalded, the bubbles have just started to form and break the surface.  (It’s normal for a skim to form.)

splitting like mad!!

Watched pots never boil and all, but the instant you turn your back it’ll burn. Not that I burn anything, by the way. Just observing.

3. In a medium bowl, mix sugar and salt together.

4. Separate the yolks from the egg whites, and gently whisk yolks into sugar mixture until just combined.

5. Pour the hot cream through a strainer as you temper it into the egg mixture; add about a third of the cream, gently stirring between each pour. (Doing this slowly prevents the egg from scrambling.)

6. To prepare for the water bath, fold a dish towel until it sits evenly in the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan, and place your ramequins atop the towel. This will prevent the cups from slipping.

7. Use a spoon to scrape the bottom of bowl, where all the vanilla bean has sunk, and make sure each ramequin has a fair amount of the bean; then pour the liquid into the ramequins.

8. Place pan in oven, and create your water bath by carefully filling the pan with hot water from the kettle, until the water reaches at least halfway up the sides of the ramequins.

9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges of the custard are set. Test for doneness by shaking, the centre should wobble like Jell-o. If the whole surface shakes give it 3-5 more minutes. If nothing shakes it’s overdone.

10. Remove from oven, and carefully remove ramequins from pan. Set them on a rack to cool for at least one hour.

11. Cover each ramequin with plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

12. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before you want to eat them.  After 20 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, and use a folded piece of paper towel to gently blot the surface to remove any condesation.

13. Add the topping, sprinkling the demerara sugar on top, tilting and tapping each ramequin to cover the entire surface, and then repeat with the crushed candy cane.

14. Place the ramequin on a fireproof surface  and torch that sucker, using a low flame held 1-2 inches from the surface. Start in the middle and slowly go in clockwise circle to the edges. Oooh, pretty!

15. Return to fridge for 10 minutes, then eat.

Verdict: Father forgive me. It had been 90 days since my last crème brûlée and I was helpless to resist the siren song of the heavy cream in the fridge. I succumbed.

Christ, I’m glad I did. I love this stuff. It’s delicious.

This was good. Objectively speaking, you couldn’t really taste the candy canes. Boyfriend says he couldn’t taste them at all, but I distinctly remember tasting candy cane in two bites. (The cane I used was from last year, maybe it went stale?)

I had planned to add a drop of peppermint oil but decided against it, not wanting to overwhelm the cinnamon, which had a gentle hint of flavour.

Heavy cream and vanilla beans are expensive, but if you wait until the cream goes on sale and get the beans in bulk, making crème brûlée does not cost you much. Buying it in a restaurant can start at $8.00 for one tiny bowl, so when you think about it, making it at home is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Canadians are in record levels of debt, so… you’re welcome!

Playlist: Barenaked Ladies – Call and Answer