Bitter Orange Crème Brûlée

What a difference a little orange zest makes. In the test kitchen, there are those who find the traditional

crème brûlée too single-mindedly sweet — for them, the aromatic citrus notes in this recipe border on a revelation. Take a spoonful of the custard and you’ll taste the bright, tangy, fruity side of the zest and just the barest whisper of pithy bite. It’s so surprising, and yet it also makes sense. Orange is both the perfect foil for all that creamy sweet and a wonderful complement to its burnt caramel top.

Crème brûlée is a classic, sophisticated dessert, perfect for entertaining. We love the way the dark caramel top presents in a clean, white ramekin. Plus, there are no slices to cut, no portions to demure over, and people relish cracking them. Crème brûlée just feels special, and when you set it in front of your guests, the table will go quiet with contentedness — but for the merry scrape of spoon against ceramic.

Servings: 6


2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup whole milk

Grated zest from two oranges

12 Gelson’s large egg yolks

½ cup granulated sugar, plus 6 Tbsp, divided

Sprigs of Gelson’s organic mint, for garnish

Special equipment: 6 4-oz ramekins, kitchen blowtorch


  1. Preheat the oven to 300°.

  2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the whipping cream, milk, and orange zest, stirring until steam begins to rise, about 10 minutes. Do not let it boil.

  3. Remove the pot from the heat and nestle it in an ice bath, stirring occasionally, until the cream mixture cools to room temperature, 5 to 10 minutes.

  4. While the cream mixture is cooling, combine the egg yolks and the ½ cup sugar in a large bowl and whisk until the sugar is thoroughly dissolved and blended with the yolks.

  5. Gently whisk the cream mixture into the egg mixture.

  6. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a large glass measuring pitcher or bowl with a pouring lip to strain out any solids. Discard the solids.

  7. Divide the custard evenly among six 4-oz ramekins. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and add 1 inch of water. Bake until the custards are firm, 35 to 40 minutes.

  8. Remove the ramekins from the oven and let the crème brûlée cool in the water bath to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.

  9. To serve, remove the plastic wrap and gently lay a paper towel on top of each custard. Gently press down on the towel to remove any moisture buildup, being careful not to dent the custard.

  10. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar over each custard as evenly as possible. Using a blowtorch, pass the flame above the sugar until it melts and turns golden brown. Alternatively, preheat the broiler and place the custards 4 to 6 inches under the heat source to melt the sugar. Leave the oven door open slightly and watch closely, as the sugar can scorch.

  11. Let the crème brûlée stand at room temperature until the sugar hardens, 1 to 2 minutes.

Recipe source: Epicurious

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