Lemon crème brûlée
A comforting winter dessert
Lemon crème brûlée is a citrus-flavoured, baked custard that has a crackable caramelised topping.
A rich dessert that is perfect to eat during colder months.
An easy to prepare dessert that can be made with only four ingredients.
Flavour sweetened cream with lemon and combine it with egg yolks to create a thick and silky custard. Bake the custards, sprinkle sugar over them and caramelise the tops to create a delicious hard toffee surface.
French-style baked custard
Typically, a French crème brûlée (also called ‘burnt cream’) is a vanilla-flavoured, baked custard with a hard, caramelised sugar topping.
My version uses lemon to fragrance the custard instead of traditional vanilla, giving the dessert a fresh yet creamy taste.
When you bake the custards, you will use a bain-marie method to ensure that the custard doesn’t curdle. A bain-marie is essentially a water bath that surrounds the ramekins of custard while they are baking in the oven.
Get the most out of your lemon peel
Normally lemon crème brûlée is made by grating lemon zest into the custard before you bake it. My method uses long strips of lemon peel to flavour the custard. I then reuse the lemon peel to make candied peel as a garnish.
You should make lemon crème brûlée because it is:
- A rich and decadent dessert that is ideal for winter.
- Seasonal – lemons are now in season (winter).
- Easy to make – prepare a custard, bake it, chill it and caramelise some sugar for its topping.
- Great to prepare in advance for a dinner party.
- Budget-friendly – this recipe only requires four inexpensive ingredients.
Lemon crème brûlée’s main ingredients:
- Thickened cream
- Caster sugar
- Egg yolks
Tips for busy cooks
I use ramekins that have a 10cm diameter & a height of 5cm. You can divide the custard between smaller ramekins if you like; this will make more crème brûlées (depending on the size of the ramekins that you use).
If you don’t have time to make the custard base of this recipe, use a thick, store-bought custard instead. Mix some freshly grated lemon zest through the premade custard before putting it into the ramekins. Chill the custards in the fridge until they have set and then sprinkle them with sugar and caramelise them under a hot grill.
You can use different types of citrus fruit to flavour these crème brûlées if you don’t have any lemons. Oranges or mandarins would also work well.
You can make the crème brûlées in advance and keep them in the fridge until serving if you like.
I use a hot grill to caramelise the sugar topping of the crème brûlées, but you can use a kitchen blowtorch instead if you own one.
- Winter dessert for one – serve a crème brûlée as sumptuous dessert on a cold evening.
- A sharing dessert – split the calories of this dish by sharing one of these custards between two as an indulgent treat.
A creamy, lemon custard with a toffee topping
Lemon crème brûlée is a rich dessert that is satisfying to eat on a cold winter’s day.
You have the option to make this recipe in advance and keep the custards in the fridge until you want to serve them. The quantities can also easily be doubled to cater for more people.
Did you enjoy the lemon flavour of this dessert?
Let me know by leaving a comment and a recipe rating below – I’d love to hear from you.
Like the taste of lemon custard? Try this recipe next: baked plums with lemon custard
Lemon crème brûlée
Lemon crème brûlée is a citrus-flavoured, baked custard that has a crackable caramelised topping. A rich dessert that is perfect to eat during winter.
- 360 ml thickened cream
- 100 g caster sugar (reserve 20 g for candied lemon peel and 20 g for brûlée topping)
- 1 lemon juice & zest
- 4 large free-range egg yolks *see Recipe Notes
Preheat oven to 160°C fan. Put two ramekins in a deep baking dish (*see Recipe Notes).
Use a knife or vegetable peeler to peel the lemon zest into large strips. Cut the lemon in half and juice it.
Add cream, 60g of sugar and the lemon peel to a medium sized saucepan. Stir and heat over a medium heat until it is simmering and the sugar has dissolved (about 5 minutes).
Meanwhile, lightly whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl.
Take the warm cream off the heat. Remove lemon peel and put on a plate to use later.
Gradually whisk the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to the mixture and whisk.
Divide the custard between the two ramekins and pour boiling water into the baking dish (around the ramekins) so it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes or until the centres of the custards are jiggly. Remove from the oven and leave them in the water bath for 10 minutes. Discard the water after this time.
Transfer the ramekins to the fridge when they have cooled down. Chill crème brûlées in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
Meanwhile, make the candied lemon peel. Cut the lemon peel (that infused in the hot cream mixture) into thin strips. Put 100 ml of water into a small saucepan, add remaining lemon juice (if there is any left), add 15 g of sugar and the strips of lemon peel. Bring to the boil. Stir, reduce heat and simmer for 8 minutes.
Remove from heat and take the lemon peel out of the sugar syrup (using tongs) & allow peel to cool on a lined baking tray. When the peel is cool, sprinkle over 5 g of sugar and mix evenly to coat the peel. Set aside until serving.
Preheat grill to a high heat. Take the crème brûlées out of the fridge. Sprinkle each of the tops of the custard with 10g of sugar. Place crème brûlées under the hot grill until the sugar has caramelised (using oven gloves, turn the custards halfway through caramelisation and be careful not to let the sugar burn). Remove the custards from under the grill.
To serve (room temperature or cold): garnish the crème brûlées with candied lemon peel.
*Ramekins - I use ramekins that have a 10cm diameter & a height of 5cm. You can divide the custard between smaller ramekins if you like; this will make more crème brûlées (depending on the size of the ramekins that you use).
*Eggs – separate the eggs and keep the egg whites for another recipe such as mini pavlovas.
I caramelise the custards under a hot grill. If you own a kitchen blowtorch then you can use this to caramelise the sugar instead.