Smoked, Torched Crème Brulee

Smoked, Torched Creme Brulee

Other Recipes from Planet Barbecue Episode 103: Grilling from Across the Pond

Our last dish is a custard. The Spanish call crema catalana; for the French it’s crème brulee. It belongs in Planet Barbecue thanks to the use of live fire to burn its sugar topping to a candy crisp crust. The only thing that could make it better? A soulful blast of wood smoke. I give you torched, smoked crème brulee.

Serves: 6
Method: Direct grilling
Advance preparation: At least 6 hours for chilling the custard


Smoked, Torched Crème Brulee


  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 strip of lemon zest, stuck with 3 cloves
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar

  • About 1/2 cup granulated sugar for torching the tops

You’ll also need:

  • 4 to 6 Catalan cream dishes or ramekins; hardwood chips or chunks; a blowtorch or crème brulee iron; click burner

Recipe Steps

1: Combine the cream, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, and lemon zest with cloves in a heavy saucepan. Bring to the barest simmer and cook for 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and let cool slightly.

2: Combine the eggs, yolks, and brown sugar in a large bowl and whisk to mix. Gradually whisk the hot cream into the egg mixture in a thin stream. Strain this mixture into a heatproof measuring cup, then divide among the 6 dishes.

3: Meanwhile, set up your grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium (300 degrees). Toss – fiwood chips or chunks on the coals.

4: Cook the creme brulees until just set, 30 to 40 minutes. To test for doneness, gently shake a dish; the top should jiggle just a little—not ripple. Transfer the custardsto a wire rack to cool, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight.

5: When ready to serve, sprinkle each of the custards with 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar in a thin layer. Light a kitchen blowtorch. Caramelize the sugar with the blowtorch. Serve at once.

Recipe Tips

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Steven Raichlen’s Planet Barbecue is a production of Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2023 Barbacoa, Inc. Photos by Chris Bierlein