Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Cardamom Creme Brulee

Cardamom Creme Brulee
T. Susan Chang for NPR /

I love the way that cardamom, sometimes called the "queen of spices," lends its sweet, gingery elegance to the cream. You can crush the pods in a mortar and pestle, or just crush them on a cutting board with the flat side of a chef's knife.

Makes 8 individual servings

3/4 cup granulated sugar

3 cups heavy cream

12 cardamom pods, crushed

6 large egg yolks

1 large whole egg

1/4 cup firmly packed turbinado sugar ("Sugar In The Raw") for caramelizing

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place a rack in the center of the oven.

Place eight 1/2-cup ramekins in a baking pan that's at least a half-inch deeper than the ramekins.

Scatter the granulated sugar in the bottom of a heavy saucepan (it will help keep the cream from scorching). Add the heavy cream and the crushed cardamom pods and bring just to a simmer, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

While the cream is steeping, whisk the yolks and egg together in a large mixing bowl. Fill a tea kettle with about a quart of water and bring to a boil.

Gently whisk the cream into the egg yolks. Strain the mixture into another bowl, and then carefully tip the mixture into a large measuring cup (or other container with a pouring spout). Divide the mixture equally among the ramekins.

Carefully pour hot water from the kettle into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Gently slide the baking pan onto the center rack of the oven. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until they are just set. Take out one ramekin and shake it gently side to side; it should jiggle uniformly. Cover the custards with plastic wrap and chill for 6 hours or overnight.

Shortly before you're ready to serve, uncover each custard and scatter about 1 teaspoon of raw sugar as evenly as you can over the surface. (If you're not using a metal table or other fireproof surface, you can place the ramekins on a foil-covered cooling rack so that nothing catches fire.) Ignite a propane or butane torch and pass the flame back and forth over the sugar coating, 6 to 8 inches away from the surface. (If you don't have a butane torch, preheat the broiler, position the cream 2 to 4 inches from the heat and watch carefully.) You'll see the sugar start to melt, bubble and brown. As soon as it has reached a golden-brown caramel color, remove from heat.

Place the finished creme brulees briefly in the refrigerator to cool back down; the caramel will become brittle and hard. They can stay there up to 45 minutes — after that, the sugar begins to dissolve back into the custard. Serve.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit