Get More Creative with Crème Brûlée

September 17, 2015

This pistachio and honey crème brûlée is burnin' up.

I’m not sure it gets more classic than crème brûlée. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the classic—cool custard flecked with specks of vanilla bean and made thick and butter-colored by the addition of golden egg yolks—I think it’s time we take a step away from vanilla and get a little more creative.

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All you need to do to make this crowd-pleasing dessert is create a custard using cream, sugar, and yolks but what you add to said custard is completely up your whim. This time around, I opted to flavor my custard with toasted pistachios and honey. The resulting dessert is warm, nutty, and wonderfully floral. And I still used vanilla bean because I’m weak for those flecks.


In the restaurant where I used to work, I picked up a brûlée technique that gives you a thick, shattering, and deeply caramelized crust. The trick is to melt the sugar—good old granulated sugar (I use coarser organic sugar and that works great)—in three layers. The first two layers of sugar are very thin; when you go melt them with the torch (or underneath the broiler), you don’t want to add color. All you want to do on those first two passes is make sure that all of the sugar is melted. Now for the third layer of sugar, the color is key; I’m talking good and caramelized, bordering on burnt because that's there where the deep, interesting flavors live. Melt the sugar completely and be sure the entire cap is intensely golden. 

Once set, the custard sits under a thick caramel roof, which protects the cool, soft, and sweet cream. It’s every bit as satisfying as the classic—and perhaps even more so. 

Pistachio and Honey Crème Brûlée

Serves 4

1 cup pistachios, toasted until just fragrant
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Ashley Rodriguez

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Michael
  • DLP
  • Maria Luhr
    Maria Luhr
  • maci britt
    maci britt
  • carswell
Author of Date Night In (2015) and creator of the blog, Not Without Salt.


Michael September 18, 2015
Try bay leaf and juniper berries in your custard! In agreement with carswell, I believe that these herbaceous and botanical flavors provide loving contrast to the sweetness of the brûlée and spike the custard with unexpected flavor.
DLP September 18, 2015
I can't wait to try this!!! Where did you find those pretty gold spoons???
Maria L. September 18, 2015
This totally worked for me and was delicious. I have always piled the sugar on top then tried to get that crispy brown coating. Always the results were less than desired! With this three layer method it was beautiful and crackled perfectly. Thank-you!!
maci B. September 17, 2015
that three-layer trick is brilliant!!
carswell September 17, 2015
I made the custard for a brulée by steeping some a couple of fresh rosemary sprigs in the heated cream and then adding some finely slivered orange peels. Divine.