Light Matcha Crème Brûlée

matchacbpCrème brûlée or burnt cream is probably the most frequent dessert I make and my favourite along with chocolate mousse. It is light, it is cold and warm, soft and crunchy…  Taken from the famous French chef Alain Ducasse’s book (“Le Grand Livre de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse: Bistrots, Brasseries et Restaurants de Tradition), my crème brûlée recipe calls for half milk and half cream, following the contemporary lightning desserts tendency I observe in the famous chefs’ or confectioners’ recipes. If you have never prepared cream and milk version, do try it.

Crème brûlée (or burnt cream, since the British and the French both claim its invention) is one of the dishes I have always preferred unaltered, only seasoned with vanilla pods. I have always regretted all the modifications. I also think the savoury starter of crème brûlée with foie gras (fat duck’s liver) is the worst thing which can be done with this expensive and wonderful product.

Crème brûlée with matcha is  however an exception. Matcha (抹茶) is the Japanese powdered green tea, used in the tea ceremony and in many desserts. Since I am a big green tea drinker, I have always had a feeling I would love it in crème brûlée. Somehow I have never had the occasion to taste it in a restaurant and I couldn’t decide on making it. One day, when I saw it in a restaurant review featured on the Shizuoka Gourmet blog, I felt the time has come to try it.

I haven’t followed any specific recipe. I have simply adapted my usual one, adding matcha. I must proudly say my crème brûlée with matcha was sensational. It was very refreshing, with a slightly bitter, herbaceous and surprisingly sophisticated taste. Even though I am now its avowed fan, I wouldn’t advice serving it to those who hate green tea and to children. (Both would certainly love the basic crème brûlée though.) However, if you like green tea and/or want to be surprised how easily a sophisticated dessert can be produced at home, give it a try!

The only thing I would change next time is straining the liquid before pouring it into the burnt cream dishes. The foam which forms during the mixing process darkens the burnt cream.

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:


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, I could only define it as fabulous.

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.

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 have used cream with 25% fat content)

4 teaspoons matcha 

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 the 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.

33 Replies to “Light Matcha Crème Brûlée”

  1. Your Matcha crème brûlée looks absolutely divine. I love the colour too. I’d love to bake with matcha powider, but ‘ve find it difficult to locate soem where I am. I will find some, its just a matter of time.

    1. Thank you Shaheen! I am sure you can buy it on internet if you don’t have Japanese shops around. Thanks again for the mango idea 🙂

    1. 12 hours is really a minimum! If you eat some of it after only 12 hours, please keep some for the next 12 hours and taste if there is a difference! (There was a huge difference in mine).
      You misunderstood me with foie gras. I have just read your post about the foie gras dessert. It looks amazing and I can imagine it being delicious! Foie gras is good with a bit of sweetness, so I can totally imagine it. In fact, the crème brûlée I mention here was a starter and not a dessert. It was really awful and I was one of the rare people who didn’t like it… (Maybe I should precise it was savoury).

      1. “If you eat some of it after only 12 hours, please keep some for the next 12 hours”
        Is it possible to save some of the brulee for later?:) The more I read the more I am excited to try. My plan is to make it in the morning or afternoon and eat the next day – that gives at least 24 hours

        1. No, I meant you should leave a small dish of cream (unburnt) for the following day to taste the diference. I had enough creams to eat this matcha crème brûlée for three days. However, if you don’t want to wait, make crème brûlée with vanilla (my old recipe). You can make it in the morning and it after the dinner! Good luck! And write to me if you have any questions!

          1. Haha, sorry I created confusion. I meant it would be difficult to stop at one. Thats why I normally bake a small number of cookies, if I make more I will eat more:)

            1. Sorry, it’s my fault… I was sure you misunderstood me (the burnt cream becomes soft and mushy very quickly). I also try to make smaller batches, but it was quite light, so I prepared more! (Somehow I managed to limit myself to one per day). Have a nice weekend!

              1. BTW I have a ramekin of creme brulee resting in my fridge. I made it this afternoon for consumption tomorrow afternoon (after a 24 hour rest). It was extremely challenging to not take a spoonful, and that would have led to another and another…I like it that you suggest baking at 100 degrees. Most other recipes I saw suggest a higher temp but in a water bath. I like the easier approach, thanks.

                1. I am thrilled you have tried making my recipe! In fact, I must admit this low temperature baking is not my idea, but the famous Monsieur Ducasse’s 😉 I also find it easier. (I have forgotten to ask if you have made the vanilla or matcha crème? Remember: only matcha cream should stay so long in the fridge! The vanilla one can be eaten even after 8 hours). I cross my fingers and hope you’ll like it! Please let me know!

                  1. Hi Sissi, crème brûlée was great. I don’t have a blow torch and used a broiler. I didn’t wait for the broiler to fully heat – lesson learnt but the crème brûlée was still very delicious. Custard is delicious, even if undercooked or overcooked!

                    1. Three Cookies, I am so happy you enjoyed it! I was waiting impatiently for your message! It’s such a pleasure to know you have tried my recipe and, moreover, to read you have liked it! I have always used my blowtorch, but I suppose if the broiler is not hot enough, it might warm the cream too much… Thank you for sharing with me this experience. You can’t imagine my joy!

    2. Sorry, I have forgotten to add that, of course, if you make the traditional crème brûlée 12 hours is enough!

  2. Oh Sissi, how did you know my most favorite dessert in the world is crème brûlée? 🙂 I love the sound of it and pretend I am a sophisticated French lady whenever I order it… Loved that you put a Japanese twist to your original recipe, though it would be impossible for me to wait so long before eating them!

    1. Jeno, so we both have the same favourite dessert! I could have crème brûlée practically every day for the rest of my life… It sounds better than “burnt cream”, doesn’t it? 😉
      I haven’t said I actually waited 48 hours! I waited first overnight and since I made several creams I could discover how the taste changes after 48 hours. (I forced myself to have only one cream a day, which was quite difficult…). However, as I have told Three Cookies, the standard vanilla crème brûlée needs only a night or a whole day in the fridge. It doesn’t change much after 48 hours.

  3. I’d love to have this matcha crème brûlée…! I only know the original crème brûlée, but I think I’d love this version even better because I love the taste of matcha…:)!

    1. Frankly I have never tasted matcha before, I only knew I loved drinking green tea (with leaves) and it was enough to make me fall in love with this crème brûlée.

  4. Dear Sissi!
    Once again you surpassed yourself!
    Congratulations !
    A suggestion for a party:
    Why don’t you prepare a set of different creme anglaises: vanilla, coffeee, chocolate and matcha!
    You then propse your guests whether they want them as such or brulee!

    1. Robert-Gilles, thank you so much for the compliments! Your approval counts a lot to me. And thanks for the party suggestion. Actually I have never tasted a coffee cream… Since coffee éclairs are my favourite I suppose I would like the coffee cream too. I must try it.

        1. I prefer your mocha cream! I must admit I don’t like panna cotta. It’s too gelatinous for me…

  5. Hi Sissi! As a Japanese person, we can’t resist Match flavor. We just love it and we use it for a lot of cooking and baking. BUT with Creme Brulee! I think this is my first time… I’m sure some matcha loving baker in Japan would bake this sort of thing, but I didn’t expect to see this on your blog! I LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT Sissi. My husband is peaking behind me and he said he wants to try. I want too! Who won’t?! Great dessert. Yum.

    1. Shilpa, if you like green tea, you should give it a try. It’s a pure delight for green tea fans. (Although not a traditional sweet dish that everyone likes).

      1. I love green tea, so will give this a go. Anyway, we can reduce the cal content? I am still going to give it a go…I love the flavours of green tea…and to top it all it is so good for you…

        1. Shilpa, the calorie content is already reduced in comaprison with the traditional French or British burnt cream (half milk). I have been making experiments for years and think 1/3 cream is the minimum. Afterwards it doesn’t look or taste like crème brûlée.

  6. I used the link from your recent post on chewy coconut cookies to get here because I was curious on the results of a matcha creme brulee. I like brulee but find that, in the absence of a torch, caramelizing under a broiler is a hit and miss process, so I usually do flan versions of most brulee dishes. I’m curious whether a matcha flan would be much different from the matcha panna cotta I’ve made. One day … I’ll check for myself.

    NOTE to self: Must make matcha honey madeleines again one day.

    1. Personally I don’t like panna cotta in general because of the thickly jellified stiff texture. Probably because I compare it to crème brûlée, which is more delicate and subtle since it’s set only thanks to yolks. Moreover, I love the burnt sugar on top. It’s for me at least 70% of the crème brûlée’s pleasure. I don’t know about Canada, but here a torch is not expensive. I tried the broiler, but only once 😉 (This is when I bought the torch!). It was worth it because I prepare crème brûlée at least 20 times a year because everyone seems to love it and it’s quite light and easy to prepare. (By the way, my crème brûlée has half milk and half cream (this is the way modern French chefs have been making it for years, not my idea).
      Matcha madeleines are excellent! I make them only for myself. I feel like playing with matcha again!

      1. When I don’t have eggs, I make panna cotta. When I DO have eggs, I make flan as it still gives me the burnt sugar taste but not the crunch of the brulee. If you don’t overdo the amount of gelatin used in making the panna cotta and don’t worry about turning it out but just eat it in its dish, it’s pretty delicate.

        As to the issue of the torch, it’s not a question of funds but of safety. I can’t be trusted with a flaming torch. 🙂 I also use half milk and half whipping cream in my flans to reduce the calorie count but still keep the rich flavour.

        Have you ever tried mango creme brulee? My nephew and SIL once ordered it in a restaurant (the price was horrendous for a 1/3 cup) and really enjoyed it and I’ve always wanted to try making it myself at home.

        1. Even though I don’t like gelatine-set desserts (usually), I love the ones set with agar and even yesterday made some more (as long as I use just a bit of agar: then the texture is “wobbly” but not set, i.e. cannot be served as usually panna cotta is because it’s too soft).
          I have never even thought of the torch’s safety issues… It’s just a small torch. I don’t think even I could hurt myself or anyone with it 😉
          I must say I’m so used to this lighter crème brûlée that when I went once to a Swiss restaurant and had a 100% one, I couldn’t finish it: it was too greasy and rich. If all the lightened dishes had such an effect one me… 😉
          Mango crème brûlée sounds fantastic! I must check if I find a recipe.

  7. What a delicious dessert!! But it seems quite a little difficult to succeed, am I right? I have once tried the crème brulée in its pistachio version, and I must say that I’m completely conquered. I’ve never cooked it but maybe I will try yours, thanks!

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