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Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée

This dairy-free, vanilla crème brûlée recipe is made with coconut cream and egg yolks for a rich, creamy custard flecked with vanilla beans and topped with a layer of caramelized sugar for that perfect crème brûlée crack.

What I love about vanilla crème brûlée

It’s been years since we lived in France, but I still remember the first time I had an authentic creme brulee. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to replicate it since going dairy free, but after having so much success with the thickening power of eggs – have you seen my dairy free key lime pie yet? – I thought I would give it a go.

Since coconut milk is the closest thing to heavy cream, I used coconut milk and a little bit of Silk’s dairy free heavy cream alternative. If you aren’t a fan of coconut flavors, don’t worry you can’t really taste it thanks to the extra vanilla bean I used in the recipe. It really masks the flavor of the coconut and makes this creme brulee extra indulgent.

Close up of creme brulee with a spoonful removed and the crystalized sugar broken through.

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

Close up of creme brulee in a dish with a spoonful removed garnished with fresh strawberries.

How to make vanilla bean crème brûlée

Simmer the vanilla. Heat the coconut milk, dairy free heavy cream in a large saucepan over low heat until it reaches a simmer. Split the vanilla beans and scrape out the insides. Add the vanilla bean seeds and the empty pod to the pot.

Temper the eggs. Whisk the sugar, egg yolks and salt together until smooth. Then ladle 1/2 cup of the hot coconut milk into the egg mixture and whisk continuously to prevent the eggs from cooking. Repeat with another 1/2 cup of coconut milk. Then, transfer the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan and whisk until smooth.

Bake the custard. Preheat your oven to 325˚F. Place 4 ramekins in a large baking dish and divide the liquid between them. Add water to the area surrounding the ramekins until the water reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake the custards for 35 – 40 minutes. The custard should still be jiggly, but the tops should be set enough that they don’t seem like they could splash.

Let them chill. Remove them from the oven. You can remove them from the water bath as soon as they’re cool enough to handle. Allow them to rest until they cool to room temperature. Then, transfer to the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Caramelize the sugar. Before serving, sprinkle the tops with about 1 teaspoon and use a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar. If you don’t have a kitchen torch you can also broil the crème brûlée in your oven for 5 – 10 minutes.

I personally don’t care for this technique because it warms the custard more than I like, especially with the coconut being so sensitive to temperatures, but it can work. Just makes sure you’re going straight from the fridge to the oven.

Overhead shot of 4 individual creme brulees in ramekins.

FAQs and tips on making dairy-free crème brûlée

Can creme brulee be made a day ahead?

Creme brulee actually needs to fully set in the refrigerator for at least a few hours, so making this a day in advance is super helpful. It’s a great make ahead option for dessert. Just be sure to wait to caramelize the sugar until right before serving.

Is crème brûlée eaten hot or cold?

This fancy dessert is usually served cold, aside from the top being torched to crystalize the sugar just before serving.

Is creme brulee hard?

Creme brulee does present to be a hard texture, however after you break the perfectly crystalized top crust, you will find a creamy custard-like texture.

overhead shot of creme brulee dishes, one with a spoonful removed garnished with fresh strawberries.

More dairy free desserts you will love

Other dairy free favorites you should try

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Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee


Description

This dairy-free, vanilla crème brûlée recipe is made with coconut cream and egg yolks for a rich, creamy custard flecked with vanilla beans and topped with a layer of caramelized sugar for that perfect crème brûlée crack.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 15-ounce can full-fat coconut milk

  • 1/3 cup Silk heavy whipping cream alternative

  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise and scraped (or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

  • 6 egg yolks


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325˚F.

  2. In a saucepan, combine the coconut milk, dairy free heavy cream, vanilla bean seeds, pods and salt. Bring to a strong simmer over low heat, then immediately remove from heat. Allow the liquid to steep for about 10 minutes. Then, discard the vanilla pod.

  3. In a mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar until smooth. Temper the eggs with 1 cup of hot coconut milk and then add them back to the saucepan.

  4. Divide between 4 8-ounce ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish and fill part way with boiling water (to prevent breaking).

  5. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until centers are set. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

  6. Refrigerate for up to 2 days.

  7. Before serving, top with a thin layer of sugar (about 1 teaspoon per ramekin), use a kitchen torch to brown the sugar until it caramelizes.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking

Nutrition

  • Serving Size:
  • Calories: 440
  • Sugar: 26.1 g
  • Sodium: 175.2 mg
  • Fat: 34.5 g
  • Saturated Fat: 26.1 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.1 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Protein: 6.6 g
  • Cholesterol: 288 mg

Keywords: dairy free creme brulee, vanilla bean creme brulee, vanilla creme brulee, dairy-free creme brulee, coconut creme brulee, creme brulee with vanilla bean, creme brulee vanilla, the best creme brulee recipe

Last Updated on April 11, 2022 by Melissa Belanger

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