Rich and elegant low FODMAP Crème Brûlée, inspired by the spanish version Crema Catalana. A custard-based dessert with a creamy pudding-like texture and topped with a thin crust of caramelized sugar.
Creamy, crunchy, and full of rich, caramelized flavor, this low FODMAP Crème Brûlée is made with five simple staple ingredients: lactose free milk, eggs, cornstarch, lemon peal and sugar. It’s the perfect dessert for a special occasion.
Differences between french and spanish Crème Brûlée
While french Crème Brûlée has become the more widely known of the two versions and the invention of the famous burnt custard is commonly attributed to France, the credit actually goes to the spanish region, Catalonia. Among Europe’s oldest desserts, Crema Catalana (catalan cream) dates back to at least the 14th century, whereas the earliest known recipe for crème brûlée (burnt cream) didn’t appear until 1691.
Both versions are similar but there are some differences:
- Crema Catalana is made with milk and cornstarch, not cream like the French version, resulting in a smoother and slightly less firm texture;
- Crema Catalana is not made using a water bath (bain-marie), which means it’s much easier than its French cousin.
- Crème Brûlée is flavored with vanilla, while Crema Catalana is flavored with lemon peal and cinnamon;
- Crème brûlée has a “greasier” texture whereas Catalan cream is lighter and more delicate.
Crema Catalana is also the favorite version in Portugal, and we call it Leite Creme. It’s a popular dessert in special occasions and an absolute family favorite! As you probably know, we invented and love Pastéis de Nata (portuguese custard tarts), which makes us kind of experts in egg custard! And I can tell you this version is sublime!
How to make the custart
The process involves making a creamy egg custard by cooking it on the stovetop, gently stirring with a spatula (preferably wooden if you have one). The constant stir of approximately 10 minutes might be the biggest difficulty of this recipe. It’s just a matter of patience, a small effort in order to get the perfect melt-in-the-mouth custard. When the custard thickens, it’s time to pour it into ramekins and to let it cool. Last step will be to let the custard set for several hours in the refrigerator before brûléeing the top, otherwise you’ll end up with soupy custard.
How to make the caramelized crust
After firming up for a few hours in the refrigerator, and while it’s still cold (straight out of the fridge), it’s time to pour the sugar over the top. You’ll need approximately 1-2 tbsp per ramekin. To form the burnt crunchy sugar crust you’ll need to burn it until it’s rich golden brown with some dark areas. You have four different methods:
- the traditional caramelizing iron like this one (affiliate link). Place the iron directly on your stopoven until it’s quite hot. Then simply burn the sugar until dark brown caramel starts to appear. A lot of smoke will come out, so make sure to do it close to a window.
- I used an electric caramelizing iron, but you can only buy one in Portugal. Same process as above but you just need to plug the iron to heat it. Be careful with the flames going up while burning the cream, so make sure to leave a safe distance.
- a small propane torch like this one (affiliate link). You can burn the cream top with a kitchen torch until sugar is caramelized.
- your oven’s broiler. To do this, place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes. Even if it’s probably the simplest (and safest) solution, it will NOT get as dark and caramelized as with the previous methods.
Low FODMAP Crème Brûlée
- 4 tbsp | 48g sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 17 oz | 500 ml lactose free milk
- 2 tbsp | 24g cornstarch
- 1 lemon peal (approx. 1inch | 3 cm long)
- 1 cinnamon stick (optional)
- 4-8 tbsp sugar to caramelize on top
- In a bowl, beat milk with cornstarch, until well dissolved and set aside.
- In another bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, until the mixture turns pale yellow. Slowly beat in the dissolved cornstarch and milk. Add the lemon peal and cinnamon stick (optional).
- Place the mixture in a saucepan on low heat and stir constantly and steadily until the cream begin to thicken, about 10-15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, remove lemon peal and cinnamon stick (optional) and pour the cream into four 6-ounce | 9cm individual ramekins. Allow the custard to cool completely.
- Cover the ramekins in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for minimum two hours (preferably 4 hour, idealy overnight).
- Spread 1-2 tbsps of sugar per ramekin and caramelize top with on of the methods explained above: a small kitchen blowtorch, a hot iron or in the oven's broiler.
- Serve within two hours.