Inspired by a recipe developed by Chef Patrick Grangien at Cafe Shelburne in Shelburne, Vermont, this lightened version has less than half the calories and one-eighth the fat of a classic brulee.

Source: EatingWell Magazine, Fall 2004


Recipe Summary

4 hrs 30 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Place coffee beans in a ziplock bag and crush with a rolling pin. Transfer to a medium saucepan, add milk and heat until steaming and tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 30 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Bring a kettle of water to a boil for the water bath. Line a roasting pan with a folded kitchen towel. Place six 6-ounce (3/4-cup) custard cups or ramekins in the pan.

  • Pour the coffee milk through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a medium bowl. Whisk egg yolks, condensed milk, cornstarch and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Gently whisk in the milk. Skim foam. Divide the mixture among the custard cups. Skim any remaining foam.

  • Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the outsides of the custard cups. Cover custards with parchment paper, then loosely with foil. Bake until the edges are set but the centers still quiver, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or for up to 2 days.

  • Just before serving, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar evenly over one custard. Using the flame of a butane torch, start at the edges and move toward the center until the sugar melts and becomes caramelized. (If you do not have a butane torch, see the No-Torch Crust Method, below.) Sprinkle with another 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and repeat to make a thicker layer of caramel. Repeat with the remaining custards and sugar. Let stand until the caramel hardens, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve immediately.


Equipment: Butane creme brulee torch (or see Tip)

Tips: In Step 1, heat the milk with 5 teaspoons instant coffee granules and continue with the recipe (it doesn't need to steep).

Cracking the caramel crust and scooping up the rich, creamy custard of a creme brûlee is a pleasure usually reserved for a special night out at a restaurant. The most efficient way to caramelize the custards is to use a torch; special creme brûlee torches that use butane fuel are available at cookware stores and in catalogs. If you do not have a torch, follow our alternative method below. (If making the caramel crust seems like too much trouble, just skip it and call your dessert a pot de creme; decorate with a few chocolate-covered espresso beans.)

No-Torch Crust Method: Caramelize the sugar in a saucepan and pour it over the custards as follows: Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook, without stirring, until the syrup turns dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes, tilting the pan as necessary to ensure even caramelization. Let stand until the bubbles subside, then carefully spoon caramel over each custard, tilting to form an even layer. (If the caramel hardens in the saucepan, warm it over low heat until pourable.)

Nutrition Facts

211 calories; protein 7.3g; carbohydrates 36g; sugars 33.8g; fat 4g; saturated fat 1.7g; cholesterol 131.4mg; vitamin a iu 429.4IU; folate 21.6mcg; calcium 209.8mg; iron 0.4mg; magnesium 32mg; potassium 441.8mg; sodium 77.5mg; thiamin 0.1mg.

2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 reduced-fat milk