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Crème brûlée

Crème brûlée
Alternative names Burnt cream, crema catalana, Trinity cream
Course Dessert
Place of origin France
Serving temperature Room temperature
Main ingredients Custard, caramel
16x16px Cookbook:Crème brûlée  16x16px Crème brûlée
File:Creme Brulee Torch.jpg
Crème brûlée being prepared with a small torch

Crème brûlée (/ˌkrɛm brˈl/; Template:IPA-fr),[1] also known as burnt cream, crema catalana, or Trinity cream[2] is a dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It is normally served at room temperature. The custard base is traditionally flavored with vanilla, but can also be flavored with a variety of other flavorings.


The earliest known reference to crème brûlée as it is known today appears in François Massialot's 1691 cookbook,[3] and the French name was used in the English translation of this book, but the 1731 edition of Massialot's Cuisinier roial et bourgeois changed the name of the same recipe from "crème brûlée" to "crème anglaise".[4] In the early eighteenth century, the dessert was called "burnt cream" in English.[5]

In Britain, a version of crème brûlée (known locally as "Trinity Cream" or "Cambridge burnt cream") was introduced at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1879 with the college arms "impressed on top of the cream with a branding iron",[6] though crème brûlée itself was not invented at Cambridge.[7] The story goes that the recipe was from an Aberdeenshire country house and was offered by an undergraduate, to the college cook, who turned it down. However, when the student became a Fellow, he managed to convince the cook to serve it.[8]

Crema catalana

File:Crema Catalana El Glop.jpg
Crema catalana served in El Glop, Barcelona, Spain

In Catalan cuisine, crema catalana ("Catalan cream") or crema cremada ("Burnt cream"), is a dish similar to crème brûlée. It is traditionally served on Saint Joseph's Day (March the 19th) although nowadays it is consumed at all times of year. The custard is flavored with lemon or orange zest, and cinnamon. The sugar in crema catalana is traditionally caramelized under an iron broiler or with a specially made iron, not with a flame. Crema Catalana is sometimes baked with a pineapple on top.

Leite Creme

"Leite Creme" is a similar Portuguese dessert; the name is also used for crème caramel.


Crème brûlée is usually served in individual ramekins. Discs of caramel may be prepared separately and put on top just before serving, or the caramel may be formed directly on top of the custard, immediately before serving. To do this, sugar is sprinkled onto the custard, then caramelized under a salamander broiler or with a butane torch.

See also


  1. L'Orthographie 1990
  2. Burned Cream at
  3. French 1691 recipe with historical notes
  4. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Simon and Schuster) 2004:97; McGee notes "An English model for 'English cream' hasn't yet been unearthed."
  5. The Oxford English Dictionary has a 1723 quotation.
  6. Florence White, quoted in Davidson, s.v. crème brûlée;
  7. "the story that crème brûlée itself was invented at the College almost certainly has no basis in fact." "Trinity Burnt Cream, Trinity College, Cambridge University". Retrieved 2014-11-06. 
  8. The story of its introduction to Trinity was published in 1908 in the Ocklye Cookery Book, as reported by Elizabeth David, Is There a Nutmeg in the House?: Essays on Practical Cooking with More Than 150 Recipes, p. 246


External links