Pistachio Crème Brulee – Creamy, nutty, and flavorful pistachio custard is finished off with a toasted layer of caramelized sugar before serving.
I am constantly looking for new and inspiring ways to honor my love affair with pistachios. In years past, I’ve included pistachios in classic recipes such as macarons and biscotti but also in more fun ways such as pancakes and sugar-dusted snowball cookies. After those recipes, what was next?
During a casual browsing through recipes online, it hit me – crème brulee! I should make a Pistachio Crème Brulee! That nutty flavor of pistachio was perfect for the simple, yet rich flavors in a crème brulee.
My first thought was how do I incorporate that distinctive pistachio flavor and color into the crème brulee in the most natural way? I found a recipe that suggested infusing the cream with pistachio flavor before placing it into the custard dishes. I loved that idea! It was perfect for extracting everything we wanted from the pistachios, without the getting crunch. So how do we do that exactly? You’ll have to read below to find out!
Making the custard
There are two main steps to making the custard for the creme brulee:
- Warm the cream
- Bake in the oven
The reason we warm the cream before baking is to speed up the baking process. If we place the cold cream into the oven, it will take longer for the cream to eventually cook into a custard. As such, it gets warmed on the stove first, and then place into custard dishes and baked.
While we warm the cream, we will also add the pistachios to help extract the pistachio flavor. To bring out all the flavor in the pistachios, we must chop them up in a food processor. Once chopped, they are added to the cream as it heats on the stove. Once the cream is warm, it’s covered and left to steep for 30 minutes.
Baking the custard
Once the cream is infused with the pistachio, it’s strained to remove the pistachio chunks and then added to the egg yolks. The mixture is then poured into custard dishes, which are sitting in a rectangular baking dish. We place them in the dish so we can add a hot water bath. The hot water bath serves two purposes:
- Prevent cracks from forming on the top of the custard
- Cooks the custard faster
The hot water bath is added to the baking dish and then carefully placed in a preheated oven to bake for 20 minutes or until the custard is mostly firm, with the center is slightly jiggly.
Brulee the sugar
Once the custard is done baking in the oven, it’s cooled in the fridge to help the custard firm up. Right before serving, granulated sugar is dusted on top and then torched with a blow torch.
Tips & Tricks
- Under ZERO circumstances can you brulee the sugar in advance. It MUST be done immediately before serving to ensure it doesn’t soften up. In addition, when burnt sugar gets cooled in the fridge, it turns to liquid, which ruins the custard.
- In order to get the texture in the crème brulee perfect, you must not heat the cream too much over the stove. If you do, it will thicken too much and cause the crème brulee to be super thick after it bakes in the oven.
- Don’t skip out on straining out the chopped pistachios after they steep in the warmed cream. It’s so important to keep the crème brulee creamy. Therefore, we must remove all the chunky pistachio pieces before baking the custard.
- You can use a broiler to torch the sugar on top but it’s not super reliable because you can’t control the direct heat. Therefore, you may need to move the custards around the oven to ensure an even crust.
Pistachio Crème Brulee
- 1 cup toasted pistachios salted or unsalted
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean
- ¼ cup honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 4 large egg yolks
- ⅛ teaspoon almond extract
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pistachios into food processor and pulse until ground up but not turned into a paste. Place into medium saucepan with cream, honey, salt, and vanilla bean. Whisk together. Place over medium heat until scalding but not boiling. Remove from heat and cover to steep for 30 minutes.
- Strain cream mixture to remove chopped pistachios and vanilla bean. Discard pistachios. Split vanilla bean pod and scrape out flecks and put into cream mixture. Discard pod.
- Place egg yolks in a medium bowl with almond extract and whisk until blended. Add 1/4 cup of cream mixture to the yolks to temper them. Whisk together and then add the rest of the cream mixture.
- Place four ramekins into 13×9 baking pan. Ladle the custard mixture into the ramekins very gently. Fill ramekins almost to the very top, leaving about 1/2 inch.
- Boil water and pour into baking dish, creating a bath for the ramekins. Fill about halfway up the ramekins. Bake in preheated oven for 25-28 minutes, until set but center still jiggles. Cook time depends on the height of your ramekins. Mine were wide and shorter so they took 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven and carefully remove ramekins from hot water bath. I used a fork and a pot holder to achieve this. Let cool to room temperature and then place in refrigerator to thicken and chill, at least 4 hours.
- Once cooled and right before serving, place about 1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar on top of each custard shake around to create an even layer of sugar. Torch with blow torch to caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately.