Here with another special little fall recipe for you guys! This is my first go with making creme brûlée at home and I was genuinely surprised by how easily it comes together.
You might have heard me say before that I don’t like apple desserts, and usually the problem is cooked apples. This is an attempt at avoiding that mushy texture of cooked apples, and instead using very thin slices of raw apples that get that classic brûlée treatment, paired with a caramel creme underneath and it’s honestly so dang good. Let’s get to it!
How to Make Caramel Apple Creme Brûlée
Let’s start with the prep- you want to get 4-6 ramekins into a cake pan. How many you use depends on the size of the ramekins- I used 4 somewhat larger and deeper ones, and I placed them into an 8×8 inch cake pan. More ramekins may call for a 9×13 inch cake pan. You want them to fit comfortably in the pan so you can easily fill the pan itself with water. Lightly grease the ramekins.
Now to make the custard, we’re basically mixing all the ingredients in a saucepan and warming the mixture until it’s steaming but not boiling. The idea is to gently heat the custard mixture over the stove and then in the oven until it sets.
I used a homemade caramel sauce in my custard, but you can very easily swap in a store-bought caramel sauce. You just want to be aware of the salt content here- If you’re using a salted caramel sauce, you may want to omit the additional salt in the custard recipe.
Heating the mixture over the stove also will allow the caramel sauce to completely incorporate. When you first add it, you may find it’s lumpy, but it will become completely smooth as it warms. Once the mixture is steaming, gently pour it into your ramekins in the cake pan.
Finally, we’re adding hot water to the cake pan where the ramekins sit. Be careful to add the hot water without splashing it into the custard dishes. This water bath method helps create a gentle and slow cooking environment, and helps prevent the custard from curdling as it bakes.
Then it’s off to the oven! You’ll know the custards are done baking when you gently shake the cake pan. The custards should wobble, but not look liquidy. Think an almost jello consistency, so still jiggly but not splashing around. Then you want to completely chill before serving.
I think the use of raw apples here is a perfect balance to the sweet creme brûlée base here. I’m thinly slicing an apple so it’s easier to eat, and then fanning the slices over the top of the cooled custards. I’m using Granny Smith apples because they’re a little extra tart, and I love that with the caramel creme.
Unfortunately there’s not a lot of great ways to achieve the brûlée effect without a kitchen torch that I’ve found. The best option is a kitchen torch, and I’ve also done one other method that works but can be tricky. You can heat a metal spoon over your stove until very hot, and then gently heat the sugar with the back of the spoon, but you need to be VERY careful while heating and handling the hot spoon here.
I like to do two layers of brûlée, and the results are so yummy! The apples stay crisp and tart, and you have a super creamy custard below. It’s the perfect fall dessert!
Tips & Tricks for Caramel Apple Creme Brûlée
Here are all my tips and tricks to help along the way for the perfect caramel apple creme brûlée!
- How do I know how many dishes to use? This recipe should make enough for 4-6 dishes, though there’s so many different sizes of creme brulee dishes that it will depend on what you have. Just fill your dishes and use what you need, removing the others from your cake pan.
- What kind of ramekin should I use? You can use any ramekin you prefer, but generally creme brulee is made in shallow dishes. I used a 3 inch wide and 1.5 inch deep ramekin set here.
- Do I have to do the water bath method? Yes, I would not skip this part. If you skip it, it’s harder to provide a gentle cooking environment, and your custard is very likely to curdle.
- What kind of caramel should I use? You can use my caramel sauce recipe if you want to make your own, or use your favorite jarred version.
- Can I use salted caramel? Yes, you definitely can use a salted caramel sauce here but you may want to omit the salt in the recipe itself to avoid something overly salty!
- How do I know when the custard is finished baking. This can be a bit tricky. When you gently shake the pan, the custard should not look like a thin liquid, but should still jiggle slightly.
- What kind of apple should I use? I recommend something tart like Granny Smith here to provide some balance to the sweet custard!
- I’m at about 5,000 ft. above sea level and I find that most people who live between about 3,000-7,000 ft above sea level do not need to make any adjustments to my recipes.
Caramel Apple Creme Brûlée
- 1 and 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup caramel sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar separated
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 large Granny Smith apple
Preheat oven to 325F. Use a 9×13 inch cake pan and place 4-6 ramekins (depending on the size of the ramekins) inside of the cake pan. Lightly grease the ramekins with nonstick cooking spray.
In a medium-large saucepan, over medium heat, combine heavy cream, caramel sauce, 1/4 cup of sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Whisk the mixture constantly while it heats until it’s steaming, but not yet boiling, and then remove the mixture from the heat.
Carefully pour the mixture evenly into the ramekins until almost filled to the top. I like to transfer the custard mixture into a large measuring cup with a spout to make it easier to pour into the ramekins. You want the dishes to be almost full, but still leave a little room at the top so it’s easier to transfer to the oven, and to leave room for the apples on top. Carefully pour hot water into the cake pan around the ramekins, being careful to not get any water into the custards. You want to add enough water to go about halfway up your ramekins.
Bake 35-40 minutes until the middles are set, but still jiggle gently in the middle of the ramekins. The custard should have a jiggle, but not a liquidly consistency. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and let them cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 2 hours before serving.
When ready to serve, slice your apple into very thin slices, and fan out layers of apple slices over the top of each chilled ramekin. Sprinkle the tops of the apples generously with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Using a kitchen torch, torch the tops of each serving until bubbling and golden brown. Enjoy!
Hello and welcome! My name is Nicole, and Dough-eyed is a food blog for people who want to bake for their family and friends in high-altitude areas. Think of me as a friendly voice there with you in the kitchen, here to give you confidence when you’re baking, and to help you with the struggles of baking at high-altitude. Come back every week for new recipes, tips, and advice on high-altitude baking!