I-ATE Food Term of the Week: Crème brûlée


The famous crème brûlée is one of the most typical dessert known all over the world. Mainly composed of a smooth custard with a caramelized topping, this dessert is appreciated in the most renowned restaurants as well as in the small brasseries or even in the grocery stores. Although very rich and quite heavy, this sweet is truly simple and you can find many variations of it.

However, it seems that the origins of this excellent sweet are quite unknown and that three countries are claiming being the inventors of it. England, France and Spain have very similar variations of the crème brûlée. Although the name is French, it seems that a student from the Trinity College in Cambridge would have been the first one to present this dessert in the 17th century. Also, the recipe would have appeared in the French cookbooks around the same period. Crème brûlée is also very close to the Spanish recipe called “crema catalana”, which strengthens the doubts. 

Crème brûlée side picture 1

Anyhow, the recipe dates back from the Middle Ages and circulated a lot in all of the continent, to appear later on in the rest of the world as a European classical dessert. Among all of those different variations, you can find some differences for the caramelized topping. The caramel is burnt with a kitchen blow torch and then served immediately to you. It can be put instantly on the custard or added later on top, separately, as a topping in itself. Disks of caramel can be prepared and added right before you eat it so the contrast between hot and cold is even stronger. If some restaurants serve it very sweet, you can also put less sugar inside and choose an extra flavour, as you prefer!

In all cases, this dessert should be served to you in an individual ramekin and can be accompanied with fruits or additional toppings. As well as fruits, you can add lemon or orange flavors even though vanilla is the most famous one. Also, liqueurs go very well with this sweet. In some restaurants, the crème brûlée can be lit on fire with the liqueur right in front of you. 

Crème brûlée side picture 2

Then you are able to enjoy your delicious crème brûlée, with the surprising contrast of smooth and crunchy. All of the variations will give you the great opportunity to taste this delicious European dessert


Hannah Abaffy. 2022. The Origin of Crème Brûlée – Penn Jersey Paper. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.pjponline.com/the-origin-of-creme-brulee/. [Accessed 03 September 2022].

LoveToKnow. 2022. Creme Brulee History and Recipe | LoveToKnow. [ONLINE] Available at: https://gourmet.lovetoknow.com/Creme_Brulee_History. [Accessed 03 September 2022].

marmiton.org. 2022. Crème brûlée : recette de Crème brûlée. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_creme-brulee_11491.aspx. [Accessed 03 September 2022].

Written by Cécile Mayeres

She holds a Master’s degree in Translation and Cross-Cultural Communication with a specialization in European mobility. She now does a traineeship in Communication at the Terminology Coordination Unit.