Gillaume Nicoli’s vanilla crème brûlée

Why do people love crème brûlée so much? We think it is how you have to crack through the crispy sugar-topping to get to the heavenliest of all custards. It is a very elegant desert, and usually expensive when you order it in a restaurant – but is actually very easy to make. Especially this recipe, demonstrated by the French pastry chef Guillaume Nicoli on NZ television, as it does not require the use of a bain-marie (water bath) to cook.

You will note that the ingredients require weighing to get the quantities just right.

Makes three medium-sized crème brûlées.


  • 70g milk
  • 210g fresh cream
  • 35g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 egg yolks

For the caramelized topping:

  • 1 tablespoon raw or Demerara sugar per ramekin


  1. Heat the milk and cream without boiling and add the vanilla pod.
  2. Allow the vanilla pod to infuse in the cream and milk mixture for 30 minutes.
  3. Combine the egg yolk and sugar and whisk continuously while slowly adding the milk and cream mixture to it. Or, do it the Gillaume way, by adding a third of milk mixture at a time and whisk it before adding the next third.
  4. Pour into your ramekins and bake in a pre-heated oven at 100°C for one hour.
  5. Allow to cool and then chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle brown sugar in an even layer over the top of each.
  7. You can either torch it with a kitchen blow torch, or put under the oven grill for a few minutes until the sugar caramelised (but keep a constant eye on it!).
  8. Allow the caramel layer to harden for a few minutes before serving.


Will keep well in the fridge for a day or two.