Light Matcha Crème Brûlée

matchacbpIf you are fond of matcha (Japanese powdered green tea) you have probably tasted Matcha Crème Brûlée, which has become popular worldwide. Green tea’s astringency and slight bitterness is not everyone’s fare, but its fans appreciate its refreshing, cooling effect and unique herbaceous aroma. I have always enjoyed all the sweets and desserts with matcha, so even though I had always been disappointed with such inventions as chocolate or coffee crème brûlée, I wasn’t surprised that matcha crème brûlée proved an exception. Nowadays, apart from the traditional vanilla-scented one, it’s the only version of this French dessert I like and prepare.

I have called my crème brûlée “light” because it’s lighter than the old cream-only recipe. Following the vanilla-scented recipe found in “Le Grand Livre de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse: Bistrots, Brasseries et Restaurants de Tradition I put half milk and half cream. As I have mentioned in one of my crème brûlée posts, this is not a diet recipe or a diet book and the author doesn’t call this cream “light”. Alain Ducasse is one of the most renowned French chefs and his cuisine simply follows the modern tendency (adapted to our lifestyles) to make food less fatty and less sweet, as long as it doesn’t affect the taste. Personally, I find this lighter version an improvement to the old-fashioned heavy one: I find it more elegant and sophisticated.

I have already written about Matcha Crème Brûlée two years ago. In the meantime I stopped using the cheapest matcha brand and this – wise – decision made me change the ingredients’ amounts (if the tea is of higher quality, you use less of it) and seemed a good excuse to write about it once more. I have also realised that a higher quality matcha produces a more beautiful, brighter colour. In short, if you ever try making any matcha dessert, invest in a slightly more expensive brand.

If you don’t feel like experimenting with matcha or if you are simply not a fan of this Japanese green tea, you might like the classic Light Crème Brûlée:

Light Crème Brûlée
Light Crème Brûlée

TIPS:  Do not taste this matcha version (it doesn’t concern the traditional crème brûlée) unless it has spent 12 hours in the fridge. It improves with time. It was excellent after 12 hours, but, after 48 hours in the fridge, it became simply sensational.

Blowtorch is a very good investment since, at least from my experience, it’s impossible to obtain the contrasting textures and temperatures crème brûlée is famous for with an oven broiler (the cream warms up). You can use blowtorch on many other custardy desserts and sweet tarts. (It’s usually quite cheap, at least here).

Click here for a few ideas of how to use up the leftover egg whites.

If you don’t have brown cane sugar, you can use caster sugar to burn, but the taste is worse.

If you travel to France and order burnt cream in an unknown restaurant, I would strongly advise asking if it’s burnt just before being served. I had several times an unpleasant surprise of soggy caramel and a uniform temperature in restaurants where the cream is burnt before the opening hours and sits for several hours in the fridge.

Special equipment: a blowtorch

Preparation: about 2 hours+ min. 12 hours in the fridge (the best is to wait 48 hours)

Calories (the whole batch, using skimmed milk and including the burnt sugar): about 1600 kcal

Ingredients (serves 4):

5 egg yolks

250 ml/8,5 fl oz/about 1 cup milk

250 ml/8,5 oz/about 1 cup liquid cream (without any thickeners; I use cream with 25% fat content)

4 teaspoons matcha (choose a medium quality brand; if you use cheapest brand you should increase the amounts)

4 slightly heaped tablespoons caster sugar

about 50 g/about 1/4 cup cane sugar (but not the moist one!)

Put the milk and the cream in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, put aside for 30 minutes.

Strain it.

Preheat the oven at 100°C or 120°C if it’s the old oven type .

Put the yolks, the sugar and the matcha in a blender or food processor and mix it.

Add the warm – not hot! – milk with cream and mix again for a couple of minutes.

Strain it to eliminate the foam and pour the mixture into six burnt cream dishes or other small shallow ramekins.

Bake it for approximately 45 minutes. (The custards are ready when only their centres are slightly trembling when moved).

Let them cool down. Put into the fridge for at least 12 hours (but it would be even better to leave them for 48 hours).

Just before serving take the creams out of the fridge and pat dry with paper towel (water drops will appear on the surface and they will make the burning process difficult).

Sprinkle with cane sugar and caramelise it with a special blowtorch.

Serve immediately while the top is still warm and crunchy and the cream below stays very cold.

46 Replies to “Light Matcha Crème Brûlée”

  1. My husband consumes big quantities of green tea for diet purposes! He also loves creme brulee, I love it too and I am sure the additions of matcha must have gave it a very unique flavor! The color is stunning!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. I’m sure he would like matcha crème brûlée then! (Some people who dislike green tea in general are not fond of this dessert… but green tea fans usually love it).

  2. I need to buy me a blow torch… can you recommend a handy brand Sissi?
    So you don’t like chocolate Crème Brûlée? Duly noted 😉
    You know your Crème Brûlée is for sure the prettiest one I have ever seen, the green matcha makes it look so unique and I wish some excellent restaurants here would serve it. Bet that some people would enjoy it, including myself of course. Not sure if my husband will like it, will need to try. You know he is super fussy…

    1. Thank you so much, Helene, for all the compliments! You should first try the standard crème brûlée in this case because some people (those who don’t like green tea, slightly bitter taste etc.) don’t like it. I have just checked my blowtorch brand; it’s Typhoon. It was quite cheap (about 20 euros if I remember, but I’m not sure; I have had it for at least four years…). Before I had bought a similarly priced one and it broke after a year, so I suppose either this brand is good or I was lucky!

  3. Ah, Sissi, I love it!! And would you just look at the colour on that lovely brûlée… gorgeous! Although I want to make it presto, I’m also tempted to save it for St. Paddy’s day and send it out to my entire family 🙂 – they would appreciate it as much as I do. You know how I feel about matcha — to me it is the *only* green tea (though I’ve yet to find it in CA 🙁 must keep up my hunt!). Fabulous rendition and I just love the lighter mint colour beneath the darker rim. The variation is so pretty!

    1. Thank you very very much, Kelly, for kind words. Sadly some people are not fond of matcha desserts (they say it tastes “herbaceous” and “bitter” but for me these are rather compliments!).

  4. My goodness, I had forgotten I still have matcha powder in my cupboard. I’m sure the quality/fragrance has degraded but I should probably give it a try. Unfortunately, the colour of my matcha powder doesn’t come close to matching yours as I recall from my matcha powder panna cotta. It was tasty though.

    Maybe I’ll buy myself a torch for bruleeing for Xmas. Right now my gadget budget has been expended. 🙂

    1. Hi, A_Boleyn. You have probably bought the cheapest matcha possible. I did it first time I bought matcha and when I made desserts they were good of course, but always quite pale and I had to double matcha amounts to make the taste really good. Now I buy medium priced matcha and the colour is so beautiful! (I also use much less of it, so finally it’s worth the price).

      1. I spent $17 for 1.76 oz (50 gms) . They also had 1 oz packages of ceremonial tea ($32.99 CDN), universal ($26.99) and culinary grades ($22.99). This was 2 yrs ago. I’m afraid to see what they’re asking now. The taste was good but the colour was pale.

        1. Yes… I think I paid the same for the cheapest one. The second price was just a bit higher, but the quality (colour and taste strength) were incomparably better. Matcha is in general expensive. On the other hand vanilla is even more expensive if we count the amounts for one dessert! It’s just that we are not used to paying so much for tea I suppose. For me it was a big shock at the beginning.

  5. Wow, this is a keeper recipe, Sissi. The way you explained each point in detail is really helpful. Now I know for sure about which sugar to choose for scorching. I love anything matcha, and the very look of this creme brulee is making me weak for this!! I would invest in a blowtorch soon…just for the sake of making creme brulees!

  6. I would make this because of the green color, and less for the taste and health effects. Looks visually appealing.
    A Japanese friend brought a box of green tea cookies with a cream filling. Probably the best cookies I’ve ever had – so delicate and creamy. I think there were only 10 or 12 individually wrapped cookies, which is a big downside. So I have fond memories of green tea desserts, though I’ve tasted only one.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. I’m not sure if it’s healthy really 😉 Even in spite of being lighter than the standard version… If you liked the cookies, I’m sure you would love this cream. In Japan everything (almost) is individually packed. I find it so cute and convenient.

      1. Those indiv wrap was a surprise. My former Japanese colleage had heat pouches – small packs that you open and put in your pocket to keep you warm. Strange but she used it. I preferred to put my hands in my pockets to keep warm, or hope for someone elses hands:)

        1. The Japanese have myriads of amazing gadgets and inventions. I feel that even if I lived in Japan for several years, I’d keep on being surprised all the time.

  7. A matcha version sounds good! Matcha is a great source of theanine! High-quality matcha is sweet rather than bitter or astringent. The only downside is that such matcha is very expensive!

    1. Thank you so much, Hiroyuki. I must admit I didn’t use really high quality matcha… It was medium priced (the one I use now was bought in Japan), but still 100 x better than the cheapest matcha I started to bake with here. (Of course in Japan the medium priced costs the same as the cheapest one here…). I wish I could taste the expensive matcha one day, but baking/cooking with it would be pity.

  8. Wow, Sissi! I’m always impressed with your desserts. I love the use of matcha in this… my Mom’s birthday is coming up and she’s a huge fan of both matcha and crème brûlée, so I’m definitely bookmarking this one 😉

    1. Thank you so much, Irina. I hope your mum will like it. Please let me know if you have any questions or doubts about the recipe.

  9. Well, you just combined two of my favorite things – matcha and creme brulee! I love both. I have what I consider pretty high quality matcha, based solely on the fact that I paid a fortune for it. It should be fabulous in this. Very creative my dear and what a luscious color of green!

    1. MJ, I’m so happy to learn we share the same taste preferences once more! Thank you for the compliments. Here even a low quality matcha costs a lot, so it’s nice to invest in something slightly more expensive and have stunning colour results. I bought some matcha for cooking and baking desserts in Japan and the lady who sold it advised me against very expensive ones, saying already medium quality matcha will yield excellent results (she was right). I’m sure yours will be perfect in desserts.

  10. Another beautiful, elegant, and super yummy dessert you made, Sissi! Love crem brulee, but never had it any other way except the classic original. I would love to try the ‘matcha’ flavor, so pretty, and creamy! The topping is a MUST…which you excelled in! Hope you had a nice little ‘holiday’ short vacation time.
    Thanks for you kind words on my blog!

    1. Thank you, Karen. The difference is small and as I have mentioned, I actually prefer the lighter one.

  11. I love matcha! Generally, I love green tea. And I love creme brulee. It used to be my favorite dessert. Unfortunately, lactose intolerance put a kibosh on it 🙁 But this is definitely tempting me. I could never resist the sugar shell and the creaminess of a good creme brulee! This looks amazing Sissi!

    1. Thank you so much, Gomo. I also don’t tolerate well lactose, but my symptoms end (at worst) with a slight tummy ache, so I can have such creams without problems (I cannot have coffee with milk regularly and use soy milk instead).
      Have you ever tried using almond cream instead of cow cream? Or almond milk?

  12. To me Creme Brulee is one of those decadent treats that I adore eating but to be honest, I have not tried one made with matcha. Matcha made it even more beautiful as it added a vibrant color to this elegant dish. Thank you, Sissi and I hope you are having a wonderful week. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Ray. I hope you will taste crème brûlée one day (or rather prepare it! it’s so easy!).

    1. Thank you very much, Nipponnin. You are too kind, as always 🙂 Unfortunately, this version is far from being my idea: matcha crème brûlée is served in French restaurants for quite a long time.

  13. I agree whole heartedly that the cream is not essential in this rich dessert, as the egg yolks also bring a considerable amount of fat to it. The recipe I use contains no cream at all, but regular milk and to be honest it is creamy enough for my taste. I am not a matcha fan, but I do occasionally enjoy green tea ice cream! This would be a lovely dessert to make for St. Patrick’s Day which we celebrate in March (this unique celebration has most pubs dying their beer green for the day!).
    I have one of these little kitchen torches and find them quite useful; previously I had to ask my husband to use his plumbing torch which was massive and easily burnt the sugar. I read a hint from a chef years ago that if the sugar will melt more evenly if you allow it to dry out, so I generally spread the sugar onto a cookie sheet over night and it works out perfectly.
    We have been away at the cottage a lot this August, but now in September we’ll be home more so I can get back into the blogging commenting.

    1. Hi, Eva. The funniest thing is that all the guests who tasted this crème brûlée haven’t noticed it was lower in fat. Other recipes in A. Ducasse’s book are not low-fat, so I suppose he really knew what he was doing, cutting down on cream here. I have always used the kitchen torch, but I have heard some people tried the plumbing ones.

  14. How lovely. I can imagine how good this is. Matcha is one of my favorite ingredient to use in dessert and truly adore Creme Brulee! This Light Matcha Crème Brûlée sounds heavenly.

  15. Can’t say I go nuts for green tea… don’t get me wrong, I don’t find it unpleasant, but some people really, really seem crazy for it! I can’t understand that, but like I said – the flavour isn’t at all unpleasant. I’d love to try this take on crème brûlée – the colour is so lovely. Reminds me of a mountain-side meadow actually 😀

    By the way, my local (French) supermarket started selling miso and FINALLY I bought a box, and now I’m wondering why the hell I didn’t get it sooner. I made a miso vinaigrette last night and ate it with asparagus, poached salmon and potatoes. The taste is so complex and rich, and it’s so versatile… It’s definitely going to be a staple in my house from now on!

    1. Thank you, Charles. The colour is now much much nicer than the one I obtained with cheaper match (which wasn’t of course cheap at all!). I don’t like generalising, but… from my experience most men don’t like green tea 😉 (Well, I don’t mean Asian men).
      I’m glad to hear you have finally bought miso. I couldn’t live without it! Good luck with experiments.

  16. I bought matcha powder to make something matcha (miss this so much!) and now I see your beautiful creme brulee! I might end up using my new matcha for this. 😀 I’m loving your top down shot – and thebeautiful color of matcha dessert… so inspiring!

    1. Thank you very much for the compliment, Nami. Actually I found this crème brûlée strangely difficult to look appetising on a photograph while in real life it’s such a beauty!

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