This apple pie crème brûlée with apple spice pie crust cookies just might be the best dessert I've ever made. Silky smooth custard with hints of maple and brown sugar, a surprise apple pie jam at the bottom of the ramekins, and a crackly caramelized sugar topping.
Served with adorable apple shaped pie crust cookies baked with apple spice sugar. Move over pie, this is the new go-to holiday dessert.
This crème brûlée recipe is inspired by and adapted from Chef Eduardo Garcia of Big Sky Kitchen.
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Holidays are upon us so that means decadent desserts. I am not a pie person, I love cake, but I won't say no to a delicious, creamy crème brûlée. This one has all the flavors of an apple pie, but with none of the fuss of making and baking a pie.
I recently discovered Chef Eduardo Garcia's show, Big Sky Kitchen, and I absolutely love his style of cooking as well as the scenery from his Montana ranch. His kitchen is amazing! He made a tea infused crème brûlée with jam at the bottom in one of the episodes and I knew I had to try it.
I liked his recipe OK, I felt it could be a touch sweeter and the tea wasn't noticeable at all.
I got to working on adapting the recipe and can confidently say this apple pie crème brûlée is one of the best desserts I have ever made. I added in the pie crust cookies to add a "pie" element to these. You can make a small batch pie crust ( see recipe notes) or use up leftover pie crust if you make a pie for the holidays as well.
- Make the pie crust cookies:
- How to brûlée:
- Make ahead: I like to make the crème brûlée custards the day before I add the sugar topping. I will set them to chill in my refrigerator overnight on a small tray. Wrap with plastic wrap making sure it doesn't stick to the top of the custards. They can stay refrigerated up to three days before serving. Add sugar and torch just before serving.
- Top tip
- Leftover egg whites:
- More recipes to try:
- Weighing ingredients Vs using cups:
Crème Brûlée is typically just sugar, cream and eggs. Since I made these based off Chef Garcia's recipe, I added in a few more ingredients to the basic recipe.
- Heavy Cream
- Sugar - I used granulated, brown and granulated maple sugar from Vermont Maple Syrup
- Apple Pie Spice - I love Spiceology's blend
- Cinnamon Apple Spice Tea - Celestial Seasonings
- Kosher Salt
- Egg Yolks
- Apple Pie Jam - the most amazing apple jam I have ever tasted from McIntosh Farm.
See recipe card for quantities.
The majority of this recipe is hands off with steeping the tea, cooking the custards in a water bath, cooling then chilling.
Combine the sugars, salt and spice in a large saucepan.
Whisk together to combine.
Add in the cream and whisk.
Set over medium heat, whisking occasionally until simmering.
Add the tea bags and soak them in the cream, turn off the heat, add a lid to the pan and steep for 30 min.
Add the jam to the ramekins. 30 g each if using 6 ounce ramekins, 22 g each if using 4 ounce ramekins.
Place the jam filled ramekins in the baking pan.
After steeping, remove the tea bags, slowly add the warm cream to the whisked egg yolks.
Combine it all together back in the sauce pan.
Divide the custard amongst the bowls. Filling almost all the way to the top.
I will place the pan in the oven then add the water since it is easier to do that way instead of carrying the pan with the filled ramekins and water - it gets a little heavy and awkward to carry. You can also pop some of those air bubbles with a toothpick if you like.
Custards are baked. They need to cool at room temperature before being refrigerated. They will completely set once fully chilled.
Make the pie crust cookies:
While the custards are cooling, make the pie crust cookies. You can make these from leftover pie dough or use my small batch pie crust recipe from the recipe notes below.
Form the pie dough into a disc and chill in refrigerator.
Roll out to ⅛th inch (3mm) thick and cut out with the apple cookie cutter. If the dough is too soft, freeze for a few minutes before transferring cookies to baking sheet.
Brush the cookies with egg wash.
Sprinkle the cookies with the apple pie spice sugar ( can also make just cinnamon sugar) and bake for around 14 minutes.
They are so cute! They come out crisp and flaky. Perfect to dip into the apple pie creme brûlée.
How to brûlée:
There are two ways to caramelize the sugar for crème brûlée. One is to use a kitchen torch, the other is to set the ramekins on a baking tray and set under the broiler of your oven.
Keep the torch a few inches above the bowls and work in circles so you torch the sugar evenly. Let it cool a few minutes to set the sugar into a nice hard caramelized topping.
You can use with granulated, raw or Demerara sugar for the topping. I used regular granulated but have used raw sugar in the past with same results.
Make ahead: I like to make the crème brûlée custards the day before I add the sugar topping. I will set them to chill in my refrigerator overnight on a small tray. Wrap with plastic wrap making sure it doesn't stick to the top of the custards. They can stay refrigerated up to three days before serving. Add sugar and torch just before serving.
Tap the top of the custard to break the caramelized sugar and dig in!
- Ramekins - I used 6 ounce ramekins, you could also use 4 ounce and make 8 creme brûlées instead of 6. I don't use the shallow ramekins for this since the jam is added to the bowls before the custard.
- Kitchen Torch - a kitchen torch is a must have for any baker, pastry maker. If you use a lager blowtorch such as a Bernzomatic - please use it outside not inside your house.
- Food Scale
- High sided baking pan - the creme brûlées are baked in a water bath so you need a high sided pan for this.
Crème Brûlée is really a eat the day ( or day after) you make it. You can keep the baked custards in the refrigerator for a few days before adding the sugar and torching it just before serving. Keep tightly wrapped with plastic wrap. The top of the custards will firm up a bit if served a few days after making, but with the caramelized sugar topping its not as noticeable and still very delicious.
- Granulated Maple Sugar - this adds another element that enhances the apple flavor in the creme brules. You can find it online at various retailers or well stocked and specialty baking stores. You could substitute liquid maple syrup but I haven't tried it that way and cannot guarantee same results.
- Apple Jam - There are many brans that have apple jam if you cannot find the McIntosh Farm jam. Make sure its a jam with pieces of apple and not a jelly.
- Dairy Free - There are many coconut cream versions of creme brûlée online for a dairy free substitute. I personally wouldn't make these with coconut cream since they will take on a coconut flavor.
These are a great make ahead recipe for a holiday so you can have one less item to worry about cooking on the day of the holiday. The recipe also doubles and triples easily, just make sure you have enough of all your ingredients ahead of time.
Leftover egg whites:
More recipes to try:
Other custard based recipes:
Make it a holiday meal:
Weighing ingredients Vs using cups:
I use my food scale and weigh out ingredients in grams because this is the most accurate way to get the best quality baked goods. Cups aren't accurate because not only are all cups not the same the sizes vary from brand to brand as well as from different countries. I have done tests with different brands of measuring cups and they all came out with different weights after I did the spoon and level as well as scoop method and then weighed in grams.
Baking is a science and science needs accuracy. Weighing is accurate and precise. Not to mention a lot easier. Another issue with cups is that I have no control over how people use measuring cups to measure dry ingredients especially flour. You could pack in way too much which would result in a sub-par baked good. Too much flour could throw everything off. Same with not enough. Not to mention also some ingredients are difficult to measure in cups such as nuts, dried fruit, chocolate etc. This is why weighing in grams is the most accurate.
I also use grams for most liquid measure since 100 grams equals 100 ml of water. Smaller amounts of items measured in teaspoons I usually leave as teaspoons, tablespoons are sometimes listed in grams as well but for the most part the different tablespoons I have used have all resulted in the same amount. Aside from cute, decorative ceramic tablespoons and teaspoons are never accurate. Those are better as decoration than for being used for baking.
Apple Pie Crème Brûlée. Whats not to love?
Apple Pie Creme Brûlée with Apple Spice Pie Crust Cookies Recipe
- 6-8 Ramekins ( either 6 or 4 ounces in size)
- 1 High sided baking pan
- 1 Deep saucepan
- 1 whisk
- 1 Food Scale
- 1 Ladle
- 1 kitchen torch
- For the creme brûlée:
- 40 g granulated sugar
- 40 g brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons maple sugar
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon apple pie spice
- 1 quart heavy cream (946 ml/4 cups)
- 5 Cinnamon Apple tea bags
- 8 large egg yolks
- 180 g apple pie jam
- 12 teaspoons sugar can use granulated, Demerara, or coarse raw sugar
- For the pie crust cookies:
- Leftover Pie crust (or small batch pie crust, see notes)
- 1 Egg
- 1 Tablespoon Water
- 2 teaspoons Apple pie spice (can also use just cinnamon)
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- Make the crème brûlée
- In a large sauce pan whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, maple sugar, salt and apple pie spice. Pour in the cream while whisking to combine everything. Place the pan on the stove over medium heat, whisking until sugars are dissolved and the cream is barely simmering.
- Turn off the heat, add the tea bags, pressing them down to make sure they will steep. Place a lid on the pan and steep for 30 minutes. Remove the tea bags after 30 minutes, gently squeezing out the cream. Whisk the egg yolks together in a large bowl. Reheat the cream on medium low.
- Heat your oven to 325 Deg F. Place six or 8 ramekins in a high sided baking pan, adding 30 grams of apple jam to each ramekin if using 6 ramekins, 22 grams each if using 8 ramekins. Set aside.
- Once the cream has heated back up turn off the heat. Slowly add the cream in a little at a time to the yolks while whisking the yolks to temper them. Keep adding cream until the yolks are well incorporated then add the yolk mixture back to the pan and whisk well.
- Divide the cream amongst the ramekins, carefully pouring over the jam. They will be very full.
- Add water to the pan about halfway up the sides of the ramekins ( I will often set the pan of ramekins in the oven then add the water so I don’t worry about spilling the water when carrying the pan to the oven because it will be heavy and a little wonky to hold)
- Bake for 40-42 minutes until the sides look more set and the middle still wobbles.
- Remove the pan from the oven and remove the ramekins immediately to a wire cooling rack.
- Let the custards cool completely to room temperature, about an hour or so then chill completely in the refrigerator, 4 hours up to overnight.
- While the custards are cooling make the pie crust cookies.
- Heat oven to 350 Deg F.
- Rollout the pie dough to ⅛” ( 3mm) thick and cut out apple shapes. Brush with egg wash then sprinkled with the apple spice sugar. Bake for 12-14 minutes until edges are starting to turn golden.
- Cool on a wire cooling rack.
- When ready to serve the custards, sprinkle two teaspoons of sugar over the top then either torch with a kitchen torch, holding the torch a few inches above the sugar moving in circles to bubble and caramelize the sugar.
- Alternately, you can caramelize the sugar with your broiler setting in your oven.
- Once the sugar is nice and caramelized, let set for 2 minutes to firm up. You can serve them now or re-chill for a few minutes before serving.
- Serve with pie crust cookies.
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
4 Tablespoons butter, cold cut into cubes
4 teaspoons ice water In a small bowl whisk together the flour, sugar and salt with a fork. Add in the butter and and mix in with the fork until the whole mixture is crumbly. Add in the ice water and mix until you get a cohesive dough.