Crème Brûlée is a classic French dessert consisting of baked cream custard with a crispy caramelized sugar top layer, that simply cracks with lusciousness once you break it with the side of your spoon.
Now to give this famous French dessert an Irish flair I decided to add a little of Ireland’s favorite cream liqueur to the custard, taking this classic dessert to decadent new heights.
If you like crème brûlée, and you like the rich, creamy tones of Bailey’s Irish Cream, then I think you will love Baileys Crème Brûlée.
What really gets me excited about this dessert, and I do have a tendency to get excited about desserts, is that it can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until just before serving. It makes impressing guests with a show stopping dessert at the end of a meal a little bit easier.
The final sugar torching step needs to happen within an hour of serving, but other than that these little babies can be chilling out in the fridge, while you’re sweating it out over the main course.
Now baking a good Crème Brûlée is actually simpler than you may think. However, cooking success is dependent upon following a few basic rules. I would say this recipe is medium on a low to high difficulty scale, but if you are a novice cook, don’t shy away.
Follow my instructions and don’t break my Crème Brûlée rules and you’ll have your guests licking their lips.
And so let’s delve into this recipe together ….
Ingredients For Baileys Crème Brûlée:
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup of heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
4 tablespoons of Baileys Irish Cream
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup of white sugar
4 tablespoons of brown demerara sugar or turbinado sugar.
Directions for Baileys Crème Brûlée:
Preheat the oven to 300°F or 150°C or Gas Mark 2.
This dessert is cooked slowly with the heat set relatively low when compared to the temperature for cooking cakes.
Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling.
Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
Rule 1: Do NOT boil the milk.
Simply heat it until it just begins to simmer and small little bubbles form on the milk at the side of the pan. Turn off the heat at this stage and once again, I cannot stress enough…. DO NOT BOIL THE MILK.
Boiled milk gives the final custard a burned taste.
In a heatproof bowl, mix the egg yolks and the white sugar together with a balloon whisk for about 2 to 3 minutes.
Rule 2: Use egg yolks only, not whole eggs.
Whole eggs are never used in crème brûlée, only the yolks. Egg whites would over set the pudding and it wouldn’t have that tender, trembling texture while still rich and creamy. And so, separate your eggs carefully and use the whites to make pavlova or meringues, or even an egg white omelette.
Next, add the vanilla extract to the eggs and whisk again.
I highly recommend using a good quality vanilla extract and not fake vanilla essence.
Rule 3: Temper the eggs.
You may ask yourself what on earth I mean when I say temper the eggs. The term “tempering” in cooking refers to mixing two liquids of differing temperatures together without altering the consistency of the liquids.
Eggs are highly sensitive to heat and can cook and curdle quickly when exposed to heat. Therefore you need to carefully add hot cream to cold eggs to literally avoid scrambling the eggs.
To temper eggs you must avoid pouring the hot cream into the egg mixture all at once. You must add a very small amount of the hot cream into the eggs while constantly whisking the eggs. Then you continue to slowly add the hot cream all the while whisking the eggs. After a few small additions that are well whisked through the eggs you can safely add the remaining hot liquid.
For this recipe you need to add a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture to the eggs stirring constantly. Gradually add more milk stirring all the time.
If you lash the hot cream in too quickly the eggs will show their temper and curdle. So be ever so patient with this step and gradually add the milk initially, stirring vigorously and you will create the perfect custard.
When all the milk is added and combined the mixture should coat the back of a spoon.
Add the Baileys Irish cream to the egg and cream mixture.
If you like an intense burst of Irish cream liqueur flavor, then add the full 4 tablespoons called for in the recipe. If you would prefer a more subtle hint of liqueur then halve the amount to 2 tablespoons.
And if you would prefer a plain, more traditional Crème Brûlée, just follow this recipe and omit the Baileys Irish Cream altogether.
Next, if you think there may be some lumps in your custard you can pass the egg and cream mixture through a fine strainer. Sorry, I forgot to photograph this step.
Pour the mixture into 4 individual ramekins, filling the ramekins to 3/4 full.
Rule 4: Use the correct ramekin.
Crème brûlée is traditionally baked in a wide, shallow ramekin rather than the taller ceramic pots. The most important feature of a good crème brûlée is the caramalized sugar crust and the more expansive this crust is the better. Also the wider, flatter ramekins ensure the pudding is cooked to perfection. The narrower, taller pots mean the the custard will be overcooked at the edges and even undercooked at the centre.
And so for an optimal pudding to sugary-crust ratio, use wide, flat ramekins.
This recipe is for 4 servings, but depending on the exact size of your ramekins you may have a little custard mixture left over. Just pour it into another ramekin and cook away, even if it is a little shallower than the others. It may cook 5 minutes quicker than the others.
Place in a bain marie. This is a baking tray half filled with warm water.
Rule 5: Always cook custard in the oven using a bain marie.
A bain marie (pronounced ban-mahree) is a fancy term for a hot water bath. These ramekins of custard are placed in a baking tray with sides. Warm water is poured into the baking tray to reach about half way up the side of the ramekins.
The water helps to cook the puddings evenly.
Rule 6: Avoid splashing water into the custards before they cook.
Moving the baking tray with the ramekins surrounded by water takes skill. If any water mixes into the puddings they will be ruined.
Be careful walking with the baking tray if there is warm water in it. It’s safer to pull out the oven wrack, place the baking tray without the water on the rack, then pour in the water for the bain marie. Be careful not to splash as you slide the rack back into the oven.
Place the tray of ramekins into the pre-heated oven and allow to cook for about 40 minutes until the puddings have set and are slightly golden.
If you only have smaller ramekins the custards will take longer to set.
Remove from the oven and the bain marie and allow to cool completely. Chill the baked custards in the refrigerator for at least four hours at this stage. They can be covered in saran wrap and left in the refrigerator overnight.
Sprinkle the top of each ramekin with brown demerara sugar and melt the sugar with a kitchen blow torch.
Alternatively you can place the ramekins on a tray beneath a hot broiler or grill for about 2 minutes to allow to bubble and brown. This is difficult to time exactly right, so if you have a culinary torch do use it for this step.
This crispy brown sugar crust will soften within an hour or two. I highly recommend leaving this step until a short time before serving these desserts.
Demerara sugar is best for this step. It has larger crystals and so melts to crispy perfection under the heat of the torch. Fine sugars do not melt as well as larger crystal sugars such as demerara or turbinado.
Here’s a quick video showing how I made this delicious baked custard ….
And there you have it. My version of this iconic French dessert with an Irish twist.
When using Baileys in the custard the liqueur flavor in the sugary crust becomes very intense. Be fair warned. This is a luscious and rich dessert.
Here’s the printable recipe using American cup measurements:
Baileys Crème Brûlée adds an Irish twist to a classic French dessert consisting of Irish Cream Liqueur infused baked cream custard with a crispy caramelized sugar topping.
- 1 cup of whole milk
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons of Baileys Irish Cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup of white sugar
- 4 tablespoons of brown demerara sugar or turbinado sugar.
- Preheat the oven to 300°F or 150°C or Gas Mark 2.
- Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling. Do not boil the milk. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a heatproof bowl, mix the egg yolks and the white sugar together with a balloon whisk for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Next, add the vanilla extract to the eggs and whisk again.
- Add a few tablespoons of the hot cream mixture to the eggs stirring constantly. Gradually add more milk stirring all the time. When all the milk is added and combined the mixture should coat the back of a spoon.
- Add the Baileys Irish cream to the egg and cream mixture.
- Pass the egg and cream mixture through a fine strainer.
- Pour the mixture into 4 individual flat, wide ramekins, filling the ramekins to 3/4 full. Place the ramekins in a baking tray with sides.
- Add warm water to reach half way up the sides of the ramekins creating a bain marie.
- Place the tray of ramekins into the pre-heated oven and allow to cook for about 40 minutes until set.
- Remove from the oven,and the bain marie, and allow to cool completely.
- Chill the baked custards in the refrigerator for at least four hours.
- Sprinkle the top of each ramekin with brown demerara sugar and melt the sugar with a kitchen blow torch.
- Alternatively you can place the ramekins on a tray beneath a hot broiler or grill for about 2 minutes bubble and brown the top layer.
- Allow to cool before serving.
And for readers in the UK or Ireland here’s a metric version of the recipe which is printable.
Happy baking to one and all.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Irish American Mom
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Plus you can find the complete collection of Irish American Mom recipes here.