(Almost) Ina’s Creme Brulee (plus a non-dairy version)

Creme Brulee is a baked custard with a crackly burned sugar crust. Custards are egg and cream based mixtures that prepared on the stove top can be the basis for ice creams and sauces, or baked in the oven for decadent creme brulees (“burned cream”), flans, and pots de creme (“pots of cream”).

Creme brulee can come together simply in about ten minutes, don’t be intimidated by its fancy name. Most of the time I serve them in ramekins without the sugar crust, more like a pot de creme. You can bake the whole recipe in one large (1 quart) gratin dish or shallow baking pan. This is a classic and versatile dessert with endless flavor variations; coffee creme brulee (add  1 1/2 tablespoons of instant espresso powder into the hot cream), lemon (add a few tablespoons of freshly grated lemon peel), and chocolate (melt 6 ounces of chocolate with the cream).

The first creme brulee recipe I ever tried was Ina Garten’s version in her book, Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home. Her version uses one whole egg- the first time I have seen any egg whites included in a creme brulee. The classic preparation uses only the yolks (usually 3 cups cream to 6 egg yolks).  I have since tried both versions and have not noticed a significant taste or texture difference (the inclusion of an egg white may result in a slightly firmer custard). It’s worth trying both ways to decide which you like best.

I recently made a non-dairy version with whole coconut milk. The non-dairy custard is just as creamy as the original though I did not like the burned sugar crust as much on the coconut milk version. The caramel flavor from the burned crust did not pair well with the flavor of the coconut custard. Next time I may try a different sweetener and add more vanilla extract.

Have you tried any interesting creme brulee variations? If you have prepared a coconut milk version please share any tips and suggestions.

This post is linked to The Healthy Home Economist | Monday ManiaRendering Lard | Two for Tuesday, Kelly the Kitchen Kop | Real Food Wednesday, The Nourishing Gourmet | Pennyise Platter Thursday, and Food Renegade | Fight Back Friday.

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  1. says

    So you can brulee coconut sugar? That’s really interesting, I’m going to have to play around with that. I like to infuse herbs in the custard, especially lemon thyme. But for the best creme brulee I ever made, I included sesame seeds in the sugar crust (on a whim!). Thank you for linking this recipe with Two for Tuesday. I’m really thankful for the coconut version because I have a close friend with dairy-intolerant children :)

  2. says

    This looks so yummy! I love that you can make this with coconut milk – my son is allergic to cows milk and will just flip over a dessert like this! Thanks for linking this to Two for Tuesdays!

  3. says

    Hi Li li and thanks for linking to the two for tuesday recipe blog hop! I LOOOOVE Creme Brulee like a baby sister! OH what decadence and to think its filled with good stuff. Dairy or no-its awesome! Interesting on the crust and the coconut custard, maybe the oil in the coconut burns at a lower temperature than the animal fat in the cream and eggs and thus it tastes a bit off? I would be interested to see how you change it up and if it makes a difference. :) alex@amoderatelife

  4. says

    Creme Brulee is one of my faaaavorite things in the world. I love cracking that sugar and diving into the creamy underneath. Gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing this w/ Two for Tuesdays this week =)

  5. says

    You cocoanut milk variation intrigues me. I recently made ice cream with it quite successfully. The thing that makes brulee so decadent is the left over egg whites. I HATE wasting anything when it comes to food. I guess I feel bad for the chickens. All that work to make an egg and half of it doesn’t get used. Can you freeze the egg whites?

  6. says

    This looks scrumptious. I always thought creme brulee is something one leaves for the professionals to do. You have made it look relatively easy. I might just give something like this a try.

  7. says

    I love creme brulee. I need to haul out my brulee ramekings and try this recipe with coconut milk. I’ve never thought to use it in a brulee. These look absolutely wonderful.

  8. lisa says

    The coconut sugar doesn’t caramelize as well as a turbinado. Maple sugar does not work. Not sure what other unrefined sweeteners would work well.
    In terms of the egg whites, one of the reasons I like this recipe is that you do end up using a whole egg so a little less waste. I keep my egg whites in a jelly jar in the fridge and will add some when I make fried eggs for breakfast. You can also use egg whites as a glaze for bread when baking. Nourishing Traditions had a recipe for crispy nuts that uses egg whites, though I never tried that one.
    The hard part is finding a good recipe that does not require a ton of sugar.
    I do have a gluten-free maple sugar madeleines recipe that works well with egg whites;
    Any other suggestions for using up egg whites would be great, between creme brulee and homemade ice cream I always have extras. I have read that you can freeze egg whites though I have never tried that.

    • Riagan says

      make a quiche to use up additional egg whites
      have you tried to make a egg white omlette really healthy (depending what you place into the middle) and you don’t have the additional protein amounts from the yolk

  9. says

    I’ve been using coconut products for a while but am new to coconut sugar, is this something that is easily found? I love creme brule, my mom used to make it for us sometimes growing up. She and her family moved to Canada from Brittany, France after WWII. thank you for sharing.

  10. Riagan says

    I love my brulee it’s a ready day standard recipe for vanilla brulee but I add espresso and khalua for the adults at a night time gathering.
    It’s really enjoyable just remove the amount of milk that the espresso and khalua add up to so that your quanties are equal. Alternativly you can add an additional egg or two to strengthen the mitxutre for the additional liquid introduced.


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