Magical holiday dessert: Coconut creme brulee

Dec 8, 2011 at 9:00 a.m. ET

When the crunchy, caramelized sugar melts on your tongue, it reveals a cool, smooth, creamy custard infused with toasted coconut. This creme brulee recipe will make your dinner table seem like a five star restaurant and make your guests think you are a true chef.

Coconut creme brulee

Creme brulee, with its creamy custard and addictive caramelized topping, has long been a restaurant chef's secret weapon. The creme brulee recipe comes together quickly, holds exceptionally well in the refrigerator and has the ability to capture our curious imaginations – just how did they get that sugary topping to turn into a magnificent candy shell that tastes like toasted marshmallow revealing a creamy custard infused with toasted coconut? Easy.

Once you master the custard technique, which is little more than mixing ingredients together at the right time (easy) and cooking them gently in a water bath (even easier), you can experiment with additional flavors. And with "easy" being the key word, you can make creme brulee your secret dessert recipe weapon this holiday season, too.

Coconut creme brulee

Serving size: 8

For the custard:

  • 1 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Boiling water

For the brulee:

  • 3/4 cup sugar


  1. In a medium saucepan, combine coconut, cream, vanilla bean seeds and pod over medium-low heat. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally; do not boil. Remove from heat; set aside 10 minutes. Strain mixture through a fine sieve; reserve cream.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and salt until creamy and pale. Using a ladle, pour a small amount of the cream mixture into the eggs to temper, whisking constantly; repeat. Add remaining cream, and whisk to incorporate. Strain mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher.
  3. On the bottom of a large roasting pan, place a damp kitchen towel; place eight (5 ounce) baking dishes on the towel. Divide cream mixture evenly between dishes.
  4. Place pan in oven. Pour enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the baking dishes, being careful not to splash any water into the custard. Bake 40 minutes or until custard is set around the edges but trembles slightly in the center. Remove pan from oven. Remove baking dishes from water; let cool on a wire rack 10 minutes; refrigerate four hours. Brulee when custard has cooled or cover custards with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to three days.
  5. To brulee, working with one at a time, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar over the custard. Using a brulee torch, heat sugar until melted and golden; serve immediately.

More holiday dessert recipes

Gluten-free raspberry souffle
Decadent holiday cookies
Christmas bread pudding