Nothing says summer like fresh corn on the cob making this fresh corn creme brulee the perfect summer dessert.
Rich creamy creme brulee custard is mixed with sweet lightly charred corn and then topped with crunchy burnt sugar.
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Corn on the Cob: In the summertime, nothing is better than freshly picked corn on the cob. If fresh corn isn’t available you can use thawed frozen corn. I wouldn’t use canned corn due to the additional moisture.
If using corn on the cob be sure to save the cob to simmer and add additional flavor to the creme brulee custard.
Unsalted Butter: I prefer to use unsalted butter in most recipes in order to control the amount of salt in the dish.
Heavy Whipping Cream: Some recipes use a combination of both heavy whipping cream and milk to make the custard lighter. In my opinion, creme brûlée is meant to be rich so this recipe uses only heavy whipping cream.
If you want to substitute milk for some of the heavy whipping cream I would stick with a 1:1 ratio. Use one cup of heavy whipping cream and one cup of milk.
Vanilla Extract: Use pure vanilla extract not imitation vanilla. It may be a little more expensive but the flavor is so much better.
Fresh Thyme: Fresh thyme pairs beautifully with fresh summer corn.
Egg Yolks: For creme brûlée you want to use just the egg yolks. Egg whites would set too firmly giving the creme brûlée a rubbery texture.
If you have never separated eggs before, check out this post from Sugar Hero where she shares four methods for separating eggs.
Save the egg whites for another recipe. My favorite way to use egg whites is in this Angel Food Cake from Alton Brown.
Kosher Salt: As always salt is included to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients.
Creme brûlée does require a couple of pieces of specialized equipment.
Large Measuring Cup: I like to strain my custard into a large measuring cup to make pouring the custard into the ramekins easier. If you are planning to wait to bake your creme brûlée, you can use this large glass measuring cup that comes with a lid for easy storage.
Ramekins: These wide shallow ramekins work best. Deeper ramekins take longer to bake, allowing the edges to overcooked before the center has set.
The wider ramekins also allow for a higher ratio of crunchy sugar crust to creamy custard.
Cake Pan: Like most cheesecakes creme brûlée is baked in a bain-marie or water bath. Surrounding the creme brûlées with water allows them to cook gently and will help keep them from cracking.
Kitchen Torch: Butane torches have a number of uses in the kitchen. They can char peppers, toast meringue, melt cheese, and brown bread crumbs. The kitchen torches from EurKitchen and Sondiko have consistently rated high in top kitchen torch lists.
Cut the corn kernels from the cob. Remove the husk from the corn cob and cut the kernels off. Save the cob to simmer with the cream.
Saute the corn. In a nonstick skillet, melt the butter and saute the corn kernels until they have a few brown specks on them. Reserve 2 tablespoons to use as a garnish.
Prepare the oven. Move an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325ºF.
Heat the cream. In a medium-sized saucepan heat the cream, corn cob, and thyme over medium-high heat until it begins to simmer. The corn cob will impart additional corn flavor to the cream. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the cream to steep for 15 minutes. Remove the corn cob and thyme and stir in the sauteed corn and vanilla. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and salt together. In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and salt until smooth and the egg yolks start to lighten in color.
Temper the eggs with the cream. Continuously whisk the yolks while you slowly pour in the warm cream.
Cook the custard. Lay a towel across the bottom of a pan and arrange your ramekins on top. Pour the custard into the ramekins. Place the pan in the oven and then pour hot water into the pan being careful to not splash water into the ramekins. The water should come about halfway up the ramekins. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes until the edges are set but the centers are still slightly jiggly. The baking time will vary widely depending upon the size and shape of your ramekins.
Cool the custard. Remove the baking pan from the oven and allow the custards to cool for approximately 15 minutes until you can safely pick up the ramekins and remove them from the water. Allow the custards to cool on the counter for an additional 15 minutes. Cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and chill them in the refrigerator for at least four hours and up to four days.
Brûlée the sugar topping. Remove the custards from the refrigerator and evenly sprinkle each custard with 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar. Ignite your torch and hold the flame about 4 inches from the surface of the custard. Using a circular motion heat the sugar until it browns and forms a crust. For a thicker crust sprinkle a second teaspoon of sugar evenly across each custard and brûlée a second time. Garnish with the reserved corn.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the summertime, nothing is better than freshly picked corn on the cob. If fresh corn isn’t available you can use thawed frozen corn. I wouldn’t use canned corn due to the additional moisture.
One of the easiest ways to cut corn from the cob is to lay it on its side on a cutting board and slice the kernels from the cob. Then rotate the cob so the flat (cut) end is against the board. Continue slicing and rotating the corn until all the kernels are removed.
Creme brûlée is properly cooked with the edges are just set and the centers still have a slight wobble. The color should be smooth and glossy without any brown spots.
Yes. Uncooked custard can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. It can either be stored all together in a storage container like this lidded measuring cup or you can divide it into individual ramekins and cover them with plastic wrap.
You can also cover the cooked and cooled creme brûlées with plastic wrap and refrigerate them for up to 4 days.