Crème brûlée or crème cassonade

Crème brûlée or crème cassonade

PS Desserts
10 small
Mark Roper

Everyone is familiar crème brûlée but for something different, instead of caramelising sugar for a glaze, I like to top the cream with a crunchy praline. I call this a crème cassonade because the praline topping resembles coarse sugar or “casson”. Make these up to three days ahead for a stress-free dessert.


Quantity Ingredient
1 litre thickened cream, (35% milk fat)
180g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling, if caramelising
1 vanilla bean, halved and seeds scraped, (for other flavourings, see variation below)
160g egg yolk
1 whole egg

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
caster sugar
Nut praline, crushed, for sprinkling (see note)
or Candied nuts, crushed, for sprinkling (see note)


  1. Preheat the oven to 110ºC.
  2. Place the cream, half of the sugar and the vanilla bean and seeds (or the flavourings of your choice) in a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  3. Stir the remaining sugar into the egg yolk and whole egg. Drizzle in one-third of the hot cream mixture and stir to combine, then stir in the rest of the cream mixture. Strain through a sieve into a large jug.
  4. This mixture is enough to fill ten 140 ml-capacity moulds, but you can use any size you like. Place your chosen moulds into a large baking tray lined with a tea towel or kitchen paper to stop them slipping around during cooking.
  5. Divide the mixture among the moulds and pour boiling water into the tray to come three-quarters of the way up the moulds.
  6. Cover the entire tray with foil and carefully place into the oven, taking care not to slosh the water into the moulds. Cook for 45 minutes or until the creams have a wobble to them. They shouldn’t be liquid still or cooked to soufflé stage either. Remove from the waterbath, then refrigerate until chilled.
  7. To serve

    You can either brûlée the tops or simply scatter with the nut praline or candied nuts. To brûlée, evenly sprinkle the surface with sugar and use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelise the sugar. Repeat this process for each cream to create a beautiful crackable glaze.


  • You can use most nuts to make pralines or candies: almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews or pecans all work well.

    You can also leave the nuts whole if you prefer. Use two forks to separate the hot nuts when you pour them onto the tray to cool.


  • Replace half of the sugar with honey and top with cashew and sesame praline.
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