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IMG_8281I distinctly remember the first time I had crème brûlée. It was in Marblehead, MA and I thought I had just eaten a small bowl (technically a ramekin) of gelatinous  happiness. I vowed some day I would figure out how to make that because who does’t want to be able to hand out little bowls of happiness? I assumed that it had to involve some druidic ritual in which one had to sacrifice of a cute furry animal and a small turtle. For years I thought about it but never actually did anything because the final step involved a small butane torch and I could never justify the expense of a small butane torch. Last year I found a butane torch on sale and I could no longer resist. So I found a recipe and started messing with it. Imagine my surprise to learn that there was no ritual, no bloodshed, and in point of fact it was a pretty simple task. The hardest part is getting a consistent, even crust on top at the end. This takes practice. Of course, that was fun. I am, after all a guy and a guy with a flaming blowtorch is a happy guy even if he’s just melting sugar.

Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with plain old crème brûlée, but a little coconut  never hurts almost any dessert. In fact, it is more than likely that this is just the first in a series of crème brûlée recipes you will find here once I start really screwing around.

In closing, a quick thought: You can make these up to the point where you put them in the fridge and leave them there for a couple of days without anything bad happening. Then you can simply pop one out of the fridge when you are feeling peckish, sprinkle some sugar on it, play with fire, and, to quote Emeril, BAM! Coconut crème brûlée for breakfast! Or in the middle of the night! Or for dessert! …

Oh, I shouldn’t have to say this but: Fire + stupid = bad things. Be careful with the fire, it is, after all, fire.


  • Large mixing bowl
  • 4 quart pot
  • Whisk
  • Strainer
  • 13x9x2″ baking dish
  • Half sheet pan
  • Parchment paper or silpat
  • Half gallon pitcher
  • 4-6 ramekins
  • Kettle full of boiling water
  • FLAMETHROWER!!!! Just kidding. Kitchen blowtorch. Make sure you’ve got enough butane before you start.


  • 1 Cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 3/4 cup sugar plus extra for sprinkling and burning (it’s not required but I recommend using superfine sugar which is NOT confectioner’s sugar)
  • 7 Egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Can (13.5 or 14 oz) Coconut milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • OPTIONAL: I like to drop in a couple of tablespoons of either rum or bourbon.

Time: About 30 minutes of actual work, plus refrigerating over night at the minimum.

Serves: 4-6 depending on how big you make the portions.


  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. Put your silpat or parchment on the half sheet pan
  3. Spread half of the shredded coconut (that’s a half cup) out on the half sheet pan
  4. Pop it in the oven for 8 minutes until it’s light brown then remove from the oven and set aside to cool a little.
  5. While the coconut is cooling, put the sugar and egg yolks in the mixing bowl and mix with the whisk until creamy.
  6. Mix the coconut milk, the cream, the untoasted coconut, and the toasted coconut in the 4 quart pot and bring the mixture just to a simmer over medium high heat giving it a stir occasionally.
  7. Slowly pour the mixture from the pot into the mixing bowl with the yolk/sugar mixture whisking constantly.
  8. Whisk in the rum and salt.
  9. Strain mixture into the pitcher and press down on the solids to make sure you get as much of the coconut flavor possible in the crème. If some of the coconut slips makes it past the strainer it’s not a bad thing.
  10. Put the Ramekins in the baking dish leaving a little space between them
  11. Pour the crème into your ramekins. You can fill them pretty much to the rim because the liquid will contract a bit when you put it in the fridge but keep in mind that you are going to have to slide this liquid into the oven without spilling so…
  12. Pour boiling water into the baking dish until it is about half way up the side of the ramekins, being careful not to get any in the ramekins.
  13. Put in the oven for about 50 minutes.
  14. Remove from the oven and carefully take the ramekins out of the water and let them cool for about a half hour. I usually take the silpat/parchment off of the half sheet pan and set the ramekins on it to cool. It keeps the counter dry and you were going to wash the half sheet pan anyway so …
  15. Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge overnight or until you are ready to serve.
  16. Remove from the fridge, sprinkle with about a half teaspoon to a teaspoon of sugar, depending on the surface area of your crème.
  17. FIRE!!! Make sure to keep moving your flame which should be set to low. The sugar will start to bubble and caramelize (melt). point the flame directly at the sugar holding the torch about 4″ away. It will smoke, pop, turn dark brown (on the verge of black). Make sure not to point the flame at the counter next to the ramekin as this may set your house on fire.