Whenever I see a classic vanilla crème brûlée on a restaurant menu, I know what I’m ordering for dessert. My husband and I are in the habit of sharing one, because we know it’s loaded with sugar. I love watching my spoon crack through the top layer of caramelized sugar as it exposes the creamy custard layer below.
Now that we have so many great sugar substitutes available, there’s an easy solution for making this decadent dessert a low carb, keto favorite. I pulled out an old, stained copy of a family favorite crème brûlée recipe and knew it would be a snap to recreate. The good news? It’s easy to make at home, and tastes as good, if not better, than the restaurant variety.
You don’t need to be an experienced chef to do this, I promise! Gather 6 egg yolks, 2.5 cups heavy whipping cream, 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup Swerve confectioners for the custard. For the crunchy topping, use Swerve brown sugar replacement.
Using either an electric mixer or a whisk, beat the egg yolks and Swerve confectioners until well-blended. In a saucepan, bring the heavy whipping cream and salt to a simmer, whisking to avoid scorching. Now you’re ready to temper the egg yolk mixture. No worries if this is your first time – you’re slowly adding the hot mixture into the egg yolks to prevent them from scrambling, giving that smooth, creamy texture to the custard. Then stir in the pure vanilla extract. You can use vanilla beans if you prefer. With a sharp paring knife, cut the bean in half, then split lengthwise down the center of each half. Use the blade of the knife to scrape out the seeds, which contain the concentrated vanilla flavor. To replace 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, use the seeds from 1 vanilla bean.
Place 8 shallow ramekins (oval or round) into a large baking dish (I used a baking sheet 1.5 inches deep). Pour the custard into 8 shallow ramekins and add hot water halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in a 275 degree F oven for 40-45 minutes, until center is almost set, but still slightly jiggly. Cool on countertop or wire rack. Then comes the really hard part – cover and chill in refrigerator for 8 hours.
After the long wait, sprinkle each custard with Swerve brown and caramelize with a small, hand-held kitchen torch. Keep the torch moving until the sweetener bubbles and turns a beautiful dark golden brown.
Next time I make crème brûlée, I’m going to infuse it with rosemary or lavender. I’ve got plenty of rosemary in our garden and just ordered culinary grade lavender. For rosemary infused custard, tie 3-4 sprigs in cheesecloth; for lavender, tie 1 tablespoon in cheesecloth. You’ll infuse the custard by placing the bundle into the heated whipping cream, after it’s removed from the heat. Let stand for 10-15 minutes. Remove bundles before adding to beaten egg mixture.
Keto Low Carb Crème Brûlée
- 6 egg yolks large
- ⅓ cup Swerve confectioners sugar replacement
- 2½ cups heavy whipping cream
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
- ½ cup Swerve brown sugar replacement
- Beat eggs and Swerve confectioners sugar replacement at medium speed with electric mixture until well blended. Remove any chalazae (rope-like string that holds the egg yolks in the center) that remain. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring whipping cream and salt to a simmer, whisking occasionally to avoid scorching. Remove from heat.
- Gradually add hot cream mixture into beaten egg mixture, using a thin, slow stream. Beat at low speed until blended. Stir in vanilla extract.
- Place 8 shallow ramekins into a large, deep baking dish. You may need 2, depending on the shape of your ramekins. I use 5½ by 4 inch ovals. 5 inch round ramekins work great as well. Pour the custard evenly between the 8 ramekins. Add hot water to halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Bake at 275 degrees F for 40-45 minutes, or until almost set. (The center will be slightly jiggly.) Using a heavy spatula, remove individual custard cups from pan. Cool on wire rack or countertop for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours.
- Sprinkle each custard with about 1 tablespoon of Swerve brown. Melt and caramelize the sweetener using a small hand-held kitchen torch until it bubbles and turns a deep golden brown. Keep the torch moving during this process. Allow 5 minutes to harden, or place in the freezer for just a minute or two. If you don't have a kitchen torch, broil 5½ inches from heat (with oven door partially open) until sugar melts, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Top with mint leaves and berries.