Do you go to the pub on St. Patrick’s Day? I never do. I think of March 17th in much the same way I think about December 31st, a big letdown. There are usually overpriced drinks, mind-numbing lines, and far too many people. I love a night out on the town but I do feel like a better one waits for me on the 18th. So what do I do instead? Well, I hang at home with my cats, a decent Irish whiskey (Writer’s Tears tonight), and something sweet. And this year that something sweet is this Irish Coffee Crème Brûlée. I feel very secure in my decisions.
When it comes to planning content, I’m usually very on top of it. I have recipes planned from now to Christmas at this point. Why? Because filling out my content calendar is my favorite thing to do. It’s all blue sky thinking with none of the crushing failures that come with the less-than-glamorous recipe testing stage. But when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day, I’m always at a loss. I know my last name would suggest I would be all over this day. But honestly, I have very few St. Patrick’s Day food ideas. Sure, I did the Irish soda bread thing this year but I knew I wanted to do something sweet as well, but I couldn’t think of what.
March 17th remained a blank square on my calendar for much longer than I’m generally comfortable with. But, about a week ago, this Irish Coffee Crème Brûlée wandered into my head. I knew this was the sweet divine intervention I’d waiting for. And after testing, shooting, and yes, eating this crème brûlée my hunch was confirmed. These are so good! So good I wonder why I haven’t seen a Crème Brûlée like this before.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s discuss what an Irish Coffee Crème Brûlée actually is. Well, to be honest, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A classic French dessert flavored with Irish cream and strong coffee. I don’t generally Irish-up my coffee, I’m more of an espresso kind of girl. I don’t really like coffee all that much, but I do love me some caffeine. So if I can rev my engine with a quick shot the moment I wake up, so much the better. But on Christmas morning, I do indulge in an Irish coffee and I quite like it. It’s definitely not an everyday drink but it’s a tasty sip once in a while.
And what can I say about Crème Brûlée? It’s pretty much transcendent. I adore this dessert. It’s rich and creamy and you get to smash it with the back of a spoon. It’s an interactive dessert, what’s not to love? I love the contrast between the brittle caramelized sugar lid and that lush and silky interior. Not just in terms of texture but in terms of flavor as well. The burnt sugar brings a balancing bitterness to the whole dessert. It’s really a dish that can only be played with but not improved on.
Now, the only difference between Crème Brûlée the original and Crème Brûlée the Irish Coffee Edition is a little less cream, some Irish cream, and some dark strong coffee. The method is the same, the time is the same. Really, I did not invent the wheel here. And why would I? Crème Brûlée does not need my help. It’s perfect. But I will say, the coffee and Irish cream are very at home here. This is definitely a twist worth trying.
Making Crème Brûlée is surprisingly simple. A lot of people think it’s harder than it is, but honestly, I think it’s easier than making pastry cream or cheesecake. All you do is heat the cream, coffee, and Irish cream over low heat until hot to the touch but not boiling. Cream loves to curdle and loves to boil over, so keep an eye on it while you’re heating it. Your stovetop will thank you.
While your cream mixture is warming up, whisk some sugar into some egg yolks until they turn a lighter shade of yellow. Then, while whisking constantly, slowly stream the hot cream mixture into the eggs. Resist the urge to rush this process. If you don’t temper the eggs properly, you will be left with Irish cream scrambled eggs. Festive, sure, but deeply disgusting.
Once your ingredients are all together, pour the mixture into ramekins and pop them into a water bath. The water bath allows the Crème Brûlée to cook slowly and more evenly, which will keep them from cracking and overcooking around the edges. From here, your ramekins enjoy a two-hour stint in the fridge before being dusted with superfine sugar and torched. I used a culinary torch for this, but I sort of wish I didn’t. It took a fairly long time to brûlée my desserts. But this teeny torch is the only one I have, so love the one you’re with, I guess.
So that’s everything you need to know about this Irish Coffee Crème Brûlée. While I created these with St. Patrick’s Day in mind, I personally think they’d be a show-stopper any time of year and any day of the week.
Irish Coffee Crème Brûlée
- 5 1/2 cup ramekins
- 1 9×13" roasting pan
- 1 small saucepan
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ¼ cup strong black coffee
- ¼ cup Irish cream
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¾ cup superfine sugar ** divided
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Pour the cream, coffee, Irish cream, and salt into a small saucepan. Place the pan over medium-low heat and heat the cream mixture until steam gathers on the surface and it is hot to the touch. Don't let the cream come to a boil.1½ cups heavy cream, ¼ cup strong black coffee, ¼ cup Irish cream, ¼ tsp kosher salt
- While the cream mixture is heating up, whisk to combine the egg yolks and ½ cup of the sugar. Whisk until the mixture turns a lighter shade of yellow.5 large egg yolks, ¾ cup superfine sugar **
- Once the cream is hot, slowly pour the cream mixture into the yolk mixture while whisking constantly to temper the eggs. Once the cream mixture is fully integrated, pour the resulting mixture into a pitcher through a fine-mesh strainer.
- Arrange 5 ½ cup ramekins inside a 9×13 roasting pan. Pour the mixture into the ramekins leaving a little space at the top of each. Fill the roasting pan with boiling water until the water reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes. The Crème Brûlée should be set but still wobbly.
- Take the ramekins out of the water bath and place them in the fridge. Let the crème brûlée chill for a minimum of 2 hours or for up to 3 days. ***
- Dust the surface of each crème brûlée with the remaining sugar. Shake off the excess and torch the sugar with a culinary torch until caramelized. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving for the sugar has a chance to cool and solidfy into the crisp crust we all know and love.¾ cup superfine sugar **