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Fire Up the Blowtorch! Rhubarb-Honey Crème Brûlée

Crème Brûlée is so much easier than you think! The hardest part was separating the eggs properly…and waiting for the custards to cool!

This month, I teamed up with my friend Julia, a FoodCorps service member in Traverse City and a former (and soon-to-be-returning) professional pastry chef at Martha’s Leelanau Table in Suttons Bay.

In the market, these last few weeks, there has been an abundance of dairy, eggs, honey, and rhubarb. So, Julia and I brainstormed into how we could use all of these fresh local ingredients in one dish: Rhubarb – Honey Crème Brûlée!

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Julia convinced me that crème brûlée really just sounds fancy, so we got to work.

We started by making the rhubarb sauce that we would swirl into our custards. If you haven’t reduced rhubarb down into a sauce before, I highly recommend it! Just mix up some simple syrup, add in the spices of your choice, and add the chopped rhubarb. Let this simmer until it becomes a homogenous sauce (you can use an immersion blender if you prefer it to be really smooth). You better taste it, just in case.

For the custard, separate the yolks from the whites into a medium bowl. Pour the honey into the yolks and whisk until smooth. Slowly heat the cream and vanilla until just barely simmering. Carefully pour the cream into the yolk mixture in a steady stream, whisking continuously. Once combined, skim foam off the top.

Place ramekins into a baking dish with high sides. Then, you may want to transfer the cream/egg mixture to something with a spout before you pour it into the ramekins.

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Place pan into oven, then carefully pour hot (not boiling) water in the baking dish until halfway up the ramekin sides. If you would like, add in the rhubarb sauce now and swirl (it will sink to the bottom).  Let cook for about 40-45 minutes, the custards should be just set but may still wobble in the middle. Now here is the hardest step:  let these babies chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

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Tick, tock, tick, tock….

Then the fun begins! Whip out the sugar and the blowtorch to get that perfect burnt sugar crust.

Sprinkle sugar evenly over the top of the cooled custard. Use the heat from the tip of the torch to melt the sugar. Avoid staying in one spot for long, and just melt the sugar until it becomes a toasty brown.

Et voila!

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Julia and I based our recipe off of this one from Epicurious:

Rhubarb-Honey Crème Brûlée

Rhubarb Sauce

⅓ cup of sugar

⅓ cup of water

4 medium stalks of rhubarb, chopped

¼ tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp ginger


5 egg yolks

¼ cup of raw honey, Champion Hill Honey

1 ¾ cups of heavy cream, Shetler Family Dairy

1 tsp vanilla extract


Turbinado Sugar

Blow Torch

Preheat oven to 325degrees.

Dissolve the sugar in the water in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add in spices and chopped rhubarb. Let simmer until rhubarb turns into a sauce. Let cool.

Separate eggs and add honey. Whisk until combined. Heat milk over medium heat until just simmering. Whisking continuously, pour cream into egg and honey mixture. Skim off foam. Pour mixture into ramekins and spoon in rhubarb sauce and swirl. Place ramekins into a deep baking dish. Pour hot water into dish to halfway up the ramekins. Bake custards for about 45 minutes. Cool for at least an hour.

To achieve the perfect burnt sugar crust, place about ½ tbsp of turbinado sugar onto the top of the custard and spread it evenly. Hold the custard at about a 45 degree angle and lightly run the torch over the top of the custard, ensuring that you melt the sugars. The crust will turn a lovely golden brown color and then you will be ready to eat! Breaking the crust is the best part!

Emma Beauchamp is the Local Food Coordinator for NW Michigan and the Communications Manager for TLD. Contact her at with your crème brûlée  tips. 


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  in Emma Beauchamp, Farmers Markets, Recipes, The Local Dish