Cranberry Crème Brûlée

cranberry creme brulee

Crème brûlée is definitely on my list of top five desserts and when I saw this recipe I knew it was perfect for the holidays. So, if you are still thinking of a special dessert for Christmas, New Years, or whatever celebration you have around the corner, consider this bright dessert. The cranberry sauce is perfectly sweet tart and because you will have extra, there is no shame in eating it by the spoonfuls while it is warm. 🙂

This was my first time making crème brûlée and I was a little nervous, but the recipe itself is incredibly straightforward.  The hardest part is determining when to take them out of the oven. Keep an eye on them, and take out when mostly set, but still a bit jiggly (like jello) in the middle.  Also, most recipes will have you pour boiling water into the baking dish for the water bath. I recently read that cold water is actually better because the eggs coagulate more gently, the only downside is you have to add some more cook time. If you prefer a hot water bath, you will need to check them out a bit earlier than the time I indicate.

It was a little difficult to get a hard, caramelized crust on the top and I’m not sure if it has something to do with the cranberry sauce on top. I used a torch, but I think the broiler might be better for this particular type of crème brûlée. Another option is to do the traditional caramelized crust and then add a scoop of the cranberry sauce on top. Either way, the taste is amazing. A rich, vanilla custard topped with an orange-infused cranberry sauce … if you try this one, let me know what you think!

Cranberry Crème Brûlée
Author: Adapted from, The Splendid Spoonful by Barbara Lauterbach
Serves: 8
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup OJ concentrate
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 12 ounces fresh cranberries
  • Butter or spray for the ramekins
  • 8 (4-ounce) ramekins
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for the carmelization
  1. Make the cranberry sauce by combining the sugar, OJ, and water in a nonreactive (stainless steel or enamel) saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries, return to a boil, and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer about 20-30 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature and chill.
  2. Place oven racks in the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly butter or spray the ramekins. Line a large baking dish with a kitchen towel and arrange the ramekins on top of the towel.
  3. Pour the cream into a medium size saucepan. Split the vanilla bean length-wise so the tiny seeds are visible and place in the pan with the cream. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Set aside and steep for 15 minutes and then discard the vanilla bean pod.
  4. While the vanilla is steeping, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Whisk until blended. Slowly add the cream mixture and mix well.
  5. Ladle the custard into the ramekins leaving just a little bit of space for the cranberry sauce and sugar topping. Place the pan on the oven rack and carefully add cold water to the dish so that the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake, uncovered, 40 – 50 minutes until mainly set, but a little jiggly in the center.
  6. Carefully remove the baking pan from the oven using a dish towel, carefully remove each ramekin and set on a wire rack to cool. Once they reach room temp, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  7. Before serving, preheat the broiler (or use a torch). Set the rack about 1 inch from the heat. Remove plastic wrap from the ramekins and blot each ramekin to remove any water. Spread a layer of cranberry sauce on each crème brûlée and then sprinkle 1 tsp. of sugar on top. Place the ramekins on a baking sheet and broil until the tops are bubbly, rotating to allow for even carmelization. Or, using a torch, heat the tops with the torch. To use a torch, let the flame just touch the sugar and heat moving in a circular direction, about 2 minutes.