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Strawberry Crème Brûlée

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Safeway. All opinions are 100% mine.

Strawberry crème brûlée is the decadently delicious dessert your Valentine’s Day celebration needs. Layers of sweet strawberry jam and rich, creamy custard are topped with a crisp crust of caramelized sugar. It’s the perfect make in advance dessert that is sure to impress your sweetie on any special occasion.

Strawberry crème brûlée in a clear glass custard cup next to a chocolate dipped strawberry with champagne and flowers in the background.

Valentine’s Day with Safeway

When it comes to holidays better celebrated at home, Valentine’s Day is pretty high on my list. It’s a great opportunity to show how much I care, while also showing off some of my favorite kitchen skills.

Whether I’m serving up a shrimp risotto, scallop pasta, or steak dinner, my local Safeway is my go to store for fresh seafood, meat, fresh produce, and everything else I need to make a fancy meal and decadent dessert.

They’ve also got all of my other Valentine’s Day essentials: romantic greeting cards, beautiful fresh flowers, champagne. and even chocolate covered strawberries.

I find all the highest quality Valentine’s Day essentials at my local Safeway, but you can also find them at the Albertsons Companies family of stores, including Albertsons, ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Vons, Randalls, Shaw’s Supermarket, Star Market, and Tom Thumb.

Shop in store or order online with Grocery Delivery or DriveUp & Go™ for more convenient ways to shop!

Overhead shot of strawberry crème brûlée in a Valentine's Day table scene.

How to Make Strawberry Crème Brûlée

Homemade crème brûlée in one of those desserts that seems to intimidate a lot of home cooks. Maybe you’ve been told that custards are finicky. Perhaps the French name is a bit intimidating. Possibly it’s the idea of using a kitchen torch that has you scared.

While all of these are valid concerns, the truth is, crème brûlée is a surprisingly easy homemade dessert to master. Once you succeed at making crème brûlée, you’ll be on your way to mastering all kinds of custard based desserts from pots de creme to homemade ice cream.

This strawberry crème brûlée is special in that it has a hidden layer of strawberry jam underneath the custard. It’s almost like a strawberry crust that blends into the custard as you eat it. For me, the texture of the jam is a huge improvement over using chopped strawberries.

Overhead image showing the ingredients for strawberry crème brûlée with white labels.

Tempering the Egg Yolks

The most important step in making a custard (which is the basis for crème brûlée) is to temper the egg yolks. This simply means to add a little bit of the hot cream into the yolks to warm them up before adding all of the yolks back into the hot cream.

It may seem tedious, but this step is what prevents the yolks from curdling and turning your fancy crème brûlée into a not so fancy bowl of creamy scrambled eggs.

If done correctly, you won’t find any lumps in the next step, when you strain your custard. To be clear, a couple lumps can be mashed through the strainer without affecting the final dish. However, if your custard is more lumpy than smooth you may want to start over and use more caution when tempering those eggs.

Warm milk being poured into whipped sugar and egg yolks.

Do I really need a water bath?

Yes, yes you do. Baking the crème brûlée uncovered in a water bath is what gives it the perfect texture. The water increases the moisture level in your otherwise dry, hot oven, which prevents the custard from drying out and cracking.

Since crème brûlée is made is single serve portions, the water bath is much more manageable compared to making a cheesecake. A metal cake pan that holds all of your jars or ramekins will do the job nicely.

For four servings an 8×8 or 9×9 pan works well, while a 9×13 pan is ideal for 6 servings. Test to make sure they fit before you start.

Pro Tip: Use boiling hot water in the water bath.

Unless you are using an instantly hot electric kettle, set the water to boil when you start making the custard. You can keep it hot on a simmer burner until you are ready for it. Use caution when pouring and moving the pan.

Pouring hot water into a cake pan to create a water bath around the filled custard cups.

How to Brûlée Strawberry Crème Brûlée

Brûlée is French for burnt which means the literal translation of crème brûlée is burnt cream. Thankfully, we don’t take this translation literally. The actual burnt part of crème brûlée is not the cream, but the layer of sugar on top of your creamy dreamy custard.

When you are ready to serve your crème brûlée sprinkle on a thin, even layer of white granulated sugar. Use the back of the spoon to gently even out the sugar into a smooth layer. For the best crackly sugar layer, use white granulated sugar.

The amount in the recipe is a guide and should be adjusted based on the width of your ramekins. While 1 1/2 tsps works for a 2″ – 3″ wide 4 oz jar, you’ll need more if you are using wider, flat containers.

While many recipes claim you can use the broiler to brûlée your crème brûlée I have never had good luck with that method. Whenever I’ve tried to use the broiler I end up with uneven results, burnt spots, and sometimes parts with raw sugar.

I found it much easier to get an inexpensive kitchen torch and use that instead. While I’ve yet to come up with dozens of ways to use a torch, once you master crème brûlée it is a worthwhile tool for your kitchen.

If you do choose to go the broiler route, make sure that your ramekins or custard cups are broiler safe, as many are not.

Tips for brûléeing crème brûlée with a kitchen torch

  1. Use white, granulated sugar and don’t skimp on the amount! You need a thin even layer of sugar to get that perfect caramelized crack layer without burning the custard below.
  2. Keep the flame constantly moving. 
  3. Hold it close enough to touch the dessert, but not too close to burn. 
  4. Most have a safety switch that will automatically turn them off when you release the button. If yours doesn’t, do not set it down and leave it unattended while it’s still on. 
  5. Remember that practice makes perfect!
  6. Keep your fire extinguisher close at hand – better safe than sorry when playing with an open flame.
Four stitched images showing the progress of bruleeing strawberry crème brûlée.
The progress for brûléeing the tops. Keep the torch moving, the sugar will melt into little balls before turning into a dark caramel color.

Making Strawberry Crème Brûlée in Advance

One of my favorite things about crème brûlée is that you can make in advance. It needs at least 3 – 4 hours in the fridge to set up, but does really well when made a day or two in advance and kept covered in the fridge.

Do not brûlée the tops until just before serving or that crack layer will turn into a layer of soggy sugar. It doesn’t taste bad, but it also doesn’t give that satisfying crack when you first break into it.

Once made, crème brûlée will keep covered in the fridge for 2 – 3 days, or can be stored in the freezer for 2 – 3 months.

When frozen, allow them to thaw overnight in the fridge for the best texture. DO NOT THAW IN THE MICROWAVE OR HOT WATER. For freezer storage you can wrap the individual ramekins in aluminum foil or make the crème brûlée in lidded, freezer safe, oven safe custard cups.

Strawberry crème brûlée with champagne and flowers in the background next to a Safeway club card.

Strawberry Crème Brûlée Recipe

The perfect Valentine’s Day dinner meets its perfect sweet ending with this strawberry crème brûlée. Decadently delicious layers of sweet strawberry jam and creamy custard are hidden beneath a crackly crust of caramelized sugar. Serve with chocolate covered strawberries and a glass of champagne for a date night to remember.

If you like this recipe, please give it a FIVE STAR rating and share with your friends!

Strawberry crème brûlée in a clear glass custard cup next to a chocolate dipped strawberry with champagne and flowers in the background.

Strawberry Crème Brûlée

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

The perfect Valentine's Day dinner meets its perfect sweet ending with this strawberry crème brûlée. Decadently delicious layers of sweet strawberry jam and creamy custard are hidden beneath a crackly crust of caramelized sugar.

Ingredients

Custard

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3/4 tsp cardamom*
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 4 TBSP strawberry jam

Crème Brûlée Topping

  • 2 TBSP white sugar - divided

Garnish

  • sliced fresh strawberries

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 300 degrees. Boil water for the water bath, preferably in a tea kettle for easy pouring. Place four 6-oz custard cups or ramekins into a 8x8 or 9x9 square pan. 
  2. Separate egg yolks from the whites, reserving the whites for another recipe.
  3. Whisk together sugar and egg yolks in a medium sized bowl until it lightens in color and takes on a thick, creamy texture. Add the cardamom and whisk to combine.
  4. Heat cream and milk over medium heat until bubbles start to form at the edge and the cream gets hot. Stir occasionally and do not let it boil. About 5 minutes.
  5. Temper the egg yolks by slowly adding about 1/4 cup of the hot milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture, while whisking constantly. Once incorporated repeat with another 1/4 cup of the milk and cream. Then add the custard mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining milk and cream. Whisk to combine completely. Adding the hot cream too quickly to the egg yolks will result in scrambled eggs.
  6. Spoon 1 TBSP of strawberry jam into the bottom of each custard cup. Pour the custard mixture on top, dividing equally between the custard cups. Create the water bath by pouring the boiling water into the pan until it's half way up the side of the custard cups. Careful not to pour water into the custard.
  7. Bake in the water bath for 30 - 35 minutes or until centers are set. To test lightly jiggle the pan. The centers should jiggle like jello. 
  8. Remove from the water bath as soon as you can safely handle them, to stop the cooking process. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate for a minimum of three hours.
  9. Cover each ramekin with 1 1/2 tsp of white sugar, adjusting for ramekin width if needed. Brulee the tops with a kitchen torch until the sugar is caramelized. Top with fresh sliced strawberries and serve immediately.

Notes

*The cardamom adds another layer of flavor, but is not a make it or break it ingredient. If you don't have cardamom on hand you can swap it for equal amounts of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, or vanilla bean paste or extract.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 5 ounces
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 502Total Fat: 37gSaturated Fat: 23gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 288mgSodium: 55mgCarbohydrates: 37gFiber: 0gSugar: 31gProtein: 6g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Nutritionix and is for general information purposes only. For the most accurate information, calculate using your select brands and exact measurements.

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