January 6, 2022

Maple and Sage Crème Brûlée

Maple and Sage Crème Brûlée

If you are looking for a dessert that will send your taste buds into a frenzy, this is the one for you!

Don’t let the monotone-looking custard fool you, this dessert is packed with a flavor that ranges from deep almost toffee-like notes of the maple syrup, to the subtle essence of vanilla, finished with the delicate presence of sage. Topped with a bitter-sweet burnt sugar crust that provides the perfect partner to the velvet custard, this fall and winter-themed creme brulee will live in your dreams.

What Is Crème Brûlée?

Crème brûlée, or simply “burnt cream,” as it translates to in French, is a classic dessert that is a essentially a custard that has been set and then topped with a thin layer of sugar that has been caramelized and allowed to harden.

The logic behind the creation of the dish is much simpler. The Crème was first brûléed to bring balance. While a well executed custard is divine in it’s own right, there are two things that it usually tends to lack: a crunch and a flavor-balancing component. That is where the burnt sugar comes in. After being torched, the sugar crust not only provides the perfect crunch to compliment the smooth custard, but it also offers the roasted and slightly bitter flavor that cuts through the sweet-richness of the custard, not unlike the charred exterior of a campfire marshmallow.

Cooking Using The "Water Bath" Technique

You'll notice this recipe calls for it to be cooked in a water bath. Using this technique helps to cook the eggs gently and evenly by helping stabilize the heat in your oven and protect against “hot spots” where the temperature runs hot. If you cooked the brulees without using a water bath, the eggs could overcook and curdle on the outer rims of the ramekins before the center is fully cooked.

When using a water bath, make sure that you place the ramekins inside the larger pan before you add the creme brulee batter, that way you can move all of the ramekins at once and have less of an opportunity of spilling. When adding the water to the pan, make sure you put the pan (with the ramekins inside) inside the oven, with a good portion still sticking out of the oven (just make sure it is balanced so it doesn’t spill when you add the water). Pour the boiling water into the pan while it is already in the oven then simply slide the pan slightly to close the oven. Boiling your water before putting it into the pan really helps reduce the cooking time.

Ingredients for this Maple and Sage Crème Brûlée

Knowing how to make a great crème brûlée should be a right of passage given how classic of a dessert it is! Here's your grocery list:

  • Egg Yolks: The egg yolks are present to add protein and bind the cream/sugar mixture, thickening it and giving it that custard texture.
  • Heavy Cream: The cream serves as the perfect vessel for transferring the flavors to your dessert. While half-and-half can be used with a higher ratio of egg yolks/gelatin, I find that the best results are always found with the cream.
  • Maple Syrup: The maple syrup truly is the star of this show. That being said, it really is important to use 100% pure maple syrup for this recipe. Using anything less just won't do the recipe justice. When maple syrup is not 100% that means it is usually cut with corn syrup or some other similar product and I assure you, you can taste the difference. To get 100% pure maple syrup, maple sap that runs from a tapped maple tree must be reduced by 40 times! That means that 40 gallons of maple sap is cooked down to a volume of just 1 gallon to reach the correct concentration and consistency of maple syrup. That takes a lot of time and work, and as someone who was born in Vermont, the maple capital of the USA (or at least should be!), I can tell you it is worth it.
  • Brown Sugar: I found that the balance for this recipe in terms of texture and sweetness just wasn’t right when we used only maple for the sweetener, so I played around a bit and found that just a small amount of brown sugar was exactly what was needed.
  • Sage: The sage, although present in a very subtle form, is the not-so-secret ingredient that will have you coming back for another bite even after you think you are done.
  • Gelatin: I like to add just a little bit of gelatin to my creme brulees to prevent them from having too much of an egg flavor. While you could simply remove the gelatin and add two more egg yolks to the recipe, I like to use the gelatin to keep all of the flavors in balance.

Tips for the Perfect Crème Brûlée

  1. Temper the eggs: All this means is that you slowly want to warm the egg yolks before integrating them fully into the cream mixture. You do this by first adding a little bit of the hot cream mixture to the egg yolks, while whisking, and then adding that back into the rest of the cream mixture. Tempering will prevent the eggs from curdling and will allow us to keep the creaminess.
  2. Put the pan into the oven before adding the boiling water: Moving the pan once it is filled with boiling water is much more difficult.
  3. Straining the mixture: I always like to strain the mixture before pouring it into the ramekins because this will ensure you get the smoothest texture possible.
  4. Taste the cream mixture before adding it into the eggs: The flavor of the cream will be a pretty good depiction of what the final Brulee will taste like so if you want more flavor (sweetness/salt/acidic) add them at your discretion.
  5. Torch the tops before baking to remove the air bubbles: After pouring the batter into the ramekins, there may be air bubbles that will create pockets in your brulee if you bake them like that. To remove them, gently turn on your torch at the lowest setting and gently caress them over the top of the brulees. This will burst the air bubbles. Just be sure not to hold the torch there for long or risk cooking the sugar and eggs.

Give it a try and you'll see that this might be the best crème brûlée out there yet.

Cheers and eat well!

Maple and Sage Crème Brûlée

This creme brûlée is packed with a flavor that ranges from deep almost toffee-like notes of the maple syrup, to the subtle essence of vanilla, finished with the delicate presence of sage and topped with a bitter-sweet burnt sugar crust.















  • 2 cups of heavy cream
  • ¼ cup of brown sugar
  • 4 ounces of maple syrup
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of powdered gelatin
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage
  • As Needed: granulated sugar for Brulee


  1. Start by gathering your desired ramekins to cook your Crème brûlée in and put them in a larger pan so you can pour hot water in the container, around the ramekins, and cook them using a “Water Bath” Technique. Bring to a boil about 2 quarts of water.
  2. Preheat your oven to 275 F.
  3. While heating the water, Bloom your powdered gelatin into your cold heavy cream by whisking it into the cream until it dissolves. Set the cream aside for 5 minutes.
  4. While you wait for the gelatin to bloom, separate the 6 eggs and place the 6 yolks into a large heat-proof bowl. Whisk to break them up and combine.
  5. After the gelatin has bloomed, add the heavy cream, salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and the sage into a medium sauce pot and heat on medium-low heat until it just starts to simmer slightly. Turn off the heat and allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes so that the sage can steep into the cream.
  6. After 2-3 minutes, while the mixture is still hot, whisk in the hot cream mixture little by little, tempering the egg yolks, until it becomes one smooth mixture.
  7. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer and carefully pour the mixture into your desired ramekins for cooking (make sure the ramekins are already positioned inside of the bigger pan so you don’t have to move them once they are filled with liquid.) Do not fill the ramekins completely to the top.
  8. Once the ramekins are filled, move the container/pan to the oven and then pour your hot water into the larger container (while in the oven) so that the ramekins are surrounded by water. You want the water to go about halfway up the ramekins. (You are creating a water bath to cook the Crème brûlées)
  9. Close the oven and cook at 275 F for about 50-60 minutes or until the Crème brûlées are set and no longer jiggle loosely when you tap the pan. You want it to still have a very subtle giggle, similar to Jell-O.
  10. When the brulees giggle slightly, carefully remove the pan from the oven and remove each ramekin from within the pan of water and chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  11. Once chilled, finish by sprinkling the top with sugar and torching to create the bruleed surface.


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