April 1, 2021
Crème brûlée (literally "burnt cream," in French) is one of those desserts that just makes you feel fancy. It's perfect for Valentine's Day, or any special occasion. But this vegan version is so easy, you could have it every day. I've tried a few vegan crème brûlées that were on the bland side, but this one has a rich, creamy vanilla custard that will make you want to have more than just one.
If you're hosting a dinner party, this is the perfect elegant dessert to prepare for your guests (the combination of food and fire always seems to impress people). You can prepare the custard ahead of time, then caramelize the sugar right before you're ready to serve it. This recipe needs to chill for a couple of hours, so be sure to plan ahead!
Although it's an easy recipe, you will need to get yourself a kitchen torch and a can of butane. You might be able to get away with melting the sugar under a broiler, but it won't look quite as nice. And you can use the torch for other fun desserts like s'mores and toasted meringue.
You will also need some crème brûlée dishes or ramekins. I used these crème brûlée dishes from Crate & Barrel. Crème brûlée dishes are wider on top than ramekins, which allows more space for the crunchy caramelized sugar on top.
This recipe is eggless and dairy-free thanks to coconut milk replacing the heavy cream and cornstarch creating a thick, creamy texture. A little nutritional yeast replaces some of the flavor of the egg yolks, and turmeric adds color. And since there are no eggs or dairy, there's no complicated baking or water bath required. Just cook the filling on the stove and pour it into the dishes.
If you don't use the right technique with your kitchen torch, you may end up with a burnt sugar topping instead of a caramelized one. For best results, make sure you're holding the torch so that the tip of the flame is barely touching the sugar. It will take a while to melt, so be patient (it took me about 2 1/2 minutes per dish). Don't hold the torch in one place; instead, move the torch quickly around the entire top of the custard. You should see the sugar start to liquefy first, then it will turn golden. When the top has turned a nice golden color (it's okay if it's a little uneven), then you're finished!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Place all ingredients except the coconut milk, vanilla, and caramelizing sugar in a medium saucepan and whisk well to eliminate clumps. Then add in the coconut milk and whisk until everything is dissolved. If you have an immersion blender, you can use that to mix the ingredients and eliminate any clumps.
Turn the heat on medium to medium-high, stirring constantly. Bring the custard mixture to a slow boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, stirring (about 1-2 minutes).
When ready to serve, remove the dishes from the refrigerator and let stand for about 5 minutes. Then spread a thin, even layer of sugar on top of the custard (the amount you’ll need will vary depending on how wide your dish is, usually 1/2 to 1 tbsp. per dish). Use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar, holding it so that the tip of the flame is just touching the sugar, and moving the flame evenly across the top. Continue torching the sugar until it turns golden brown. Let the sugar harden (you may wish to refrigerate before serving to allow the custard to thicken again), then serve and enjoy!
Don't hold the torch too close or stay in one spot for too long, or your sugar may burn.
Your custard may soften a bit from the heat of the torch; if you prefer it to be firmer, put it back in the refrigerator for an hour or so after torching.
Feel free to adjust the amount of sugar to taste; reduce to 1/4 cup for less sugar or increase to 1/2 cup for a sweeter custard.
Note: This data should be used only as an estimate. Please see the nutrition section of my terms and conditions for more information on how this data is calculated.
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