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Crème Brûlée Goes Savory & We Realize What We've Been Missing All Along

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As Food52 gets older (and wiser), and our archive of recipes grows, we’re making the effort to revisit some stellar recipes from our community. Today's savory side dish comes from longtime Food52er boulangere.


If sultry was a side dish.
If sultry was a side dish. Photo by James Ransom

Crème brûlée is a dessert menu stalwart, but boulangere flips the standard sweet dish and made a savory version worth starring at your next dinner party. She first conceived the dish as a hotel pastry and banquet chef when she had a surplus of pink peppercorns.

We had ordered one 24-ounce container of pink peppercorns, which may sound like a lot, but under the circumstances was quite sane. Instead, we received a case of 6 containers which might take approximately forever to use up. I left the hotel a couple of years ago, and I’m certain there remains a generous supply still sitting on a shelf.

"Approximately forever" is a really long time, especially considering that she'd make as many as 100 of these crème brûlées at a time. Luckily for all of us, she scaled the recipe down ("way, way down") to make a more manageable four servings. (Do note though, that when she made the recipe for a friend, the two of them easily polished off all four servings, so plan accordingly!)

refreshing beverage optional, but encouraged

Boulangere served hers with halibut (marinated briefly in some white wine, olive oil, lemon, and pink peppercorns, then smoked gently over hay), but I'm tempted to make it more of a main dish and serve it alongside a green salad with some crusty bread on the side. And there's no need to worry about perfectly timing when you'll serve it—Laurelb reports, "It was luscious hot, but just as yummy at room temperature and cold."

Savory Crème Brûlée with a Crispy Caramelized Leek Crust

Savory Crème Brûlée with a Crispy Caramelized Leek Crust

boulangere boulangere
Serves 4

For the custard

  • 16 ounces heavy cream
  • 2 large or 3 small leeks
  • 4 pink peppercorns
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (Meyer, if available)

For the crispy leeks:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Leeks strained from the custard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (Meyer, if available)
  • 1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
Go to Recipe

Do you have a recipe that's been passed down in your family? Or one you want to make sure your future generations make? Let us know in the comments and it might be featured as one of our heirloom recipes!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Heirloom Recipes