There aren’t many desserts as elegant as crème brûlée. In this Chai Spice Crème Brûlée Recipe, this classic French dessert gets a glow-up with earthy, aromatic chai spices like cinnamon and clove.
Many people think that crème brûlée is only a dessert for restaurants. They think it’s way too fancy and complicated to make at home. Not the case!
In fact, crème brûlée is one of the easier desserts to make. Much easier than baking a cake or pie. Yes, it’s true! This classic French recipe has a short list of simple ingredients and a very simple process. And the addition of chai spices just takes it to another level of indulgence.
What is Crème Brûlée made of?
The English translation of crème brûlée is “burnt cream”. Also known as trinity cream or creme catalana, crème brûlée is a creamy vanilla custard with a crackly caramelized sugar top.
All you need to make this chai spice crème brûlée recipe are five basic ingredients. How easy is that?
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Vanilla bean paste or real vanilla bean. The paste is simply the beans already scraped out of the pods. I keep a jar of it in the pantry. It imparts a gorgeous flavor and aroma to lots of desserts and drinks with the added visual of real vanilla beans. Vanilla bean paste can be used interchangeably with real vanilla bean. Or if you’re really in a pinch, just use an equal amount of pure vanilla extract.
- Heavy cream. This gives crème brûlée the creamy, custardy texture that it is famous for. Don’t try to substitute milk – even whole milk – for the heavy cream.
- Egg Yolks. These also add to that trademark texture. Yep, we are ditching the egg whites! Use them to make an omelette to keep with the French theme you’ve got going on.
- Sugar. A little bit for the custard, and a little for when we torch the tops.
- Chai tea. Chai tea bags are easy to find in most grocery stores.
What is Chai?
Chai isn’t actually one single spice. It’s a spice blend that includes cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger and black peppercorns. It’s got a sweet, earthy and a tiny bit peppery flavor, and the aroma is incredible. It comes mixed with black tea in standard tea bags and also in powdered mixes that you can use to make lattes.
For this Chai Spice Crème Brûlée, we’re letting the tea bags steep with heavy cream and vanilla bean paste to really infuse their flavor into the finished product. The longer you let the tea bags steep, the more pronounced the chai flavor will be.
Creme Brulee vs. Custard
Crème brûlée and custard are pretty similar, both in flavor and in texture. They are both made with eggs. Custard is made with either heavy cream or milk, while crème brûlée recipes are always made with heavy cream, so its texture is a bit richer.
Custard does not have the burnt top that crème brûlée is famous for.
How to Make chai spice Crème Brûlée
To make this naturally gluten free dessert at home, you’ll start on the stove. Warm the cream and vanilla bean (or vanilla bean paste) in a saucepan. Then, drop the tea bags into the cream mixture. Let it steep.
Be sure to squeeze the tea bags as much as you can to get as much of that chai flavor into the cream.
While the cream mixture rests, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Then, combine everything. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins and bake. The crème brûlée will have to be refrigerated until it’s completely set. It’s kind of like how you would make pudding.
To get the “burnt cream” that makes this crème brûlée – well – crème brûlée, you need to burn the top of the custard with a torch. I’d argue that the best part of eating crème brûlée is tapping on that sugar crust with a spoon to reveal the delicious custard underneath.
If you don’t have a kitchen blow torch, you can find one on Amazon for around 12 bucks. And you can use your crème brûlée torch like a regular lighter, so it pays for itself.
Why is it important to bake crème brûlée in a water bath?
Crème brûlée, cheesecake, flan and other custard-type desserts need to be baked in a water bath. Also known as a bain marie, a water bath is simply a baking dish that’s partially filled with water. The water usually goes about halfway up the ramekins.
Baking crème brûlée in a water bath keeps the environment in the oven humid and prevents the custard from curdling and cracking.
How to Serve crème brûlée
Creme Brulee is best enjoyed cool or at room temperature. When it comes out of the refrigerator and you use your butane kitchen torch to create the caramel lid, the custard underneath will also warm up a bit.
Garnish this delicious dessert with fresh berries or just eat it plain, on it’s own. The beauty of this delicious French dessert is its simplicity! And it’s just perfect for celebrations and special occasions.
This recipe will make 6 servings. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and store them in the fridge. Torch the tops just before you’re ready to enjoy.
I can’t wait for you to see how easy it is to make this gorgeous, timeless dessert. And when you make this Chai Spice Creme Brulee, I’d love to hear about it! Drop a rating or leave a comment below. Enjoy!
For more gluten free desserts, try these:
Chai Spice Crème Brûlée Recipe
- 1 quart heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste or 1 whole vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
- 1 cup white sugar divided
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3 Chai black tea bags
- Stir cream and vanilla bean paste together in a medium saucepan. (If using a whole vanilla bean, scrape the beans into the saucepan and also put the vanilla pod in). Bring to a boil. Watch closely because it can easily boil over. Remove from heat and stir in the tea bags. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Arrange 6 ramekins in a single layer in a 9×13 baking dish. Set up the water bath: fill the baking dish with hot water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. The water does not have to be boiling.
- In a bowl, whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar together. Remove vanilla bean pod, if using, from the cream mixture and discard. Squeeze the tea bags into the cream mixture and discard.
- Slowly pour the cream into the egg mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Divide the custard mixture evenly among the ramekins. Bake 40-45 minutes, until crème brûlée is set but still jiggly.
- When cool enough to handle, remove from the baking pan to cool on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate several hours until set. Remove from the refrigerator and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Use torch to burn the sugar topping until browned.