Stuffed with silky pastry cream and topped with a crunchy torched sugar topping, these creme brulee cookies are simply delightful! Soft and tender, the brown sugar base perfectly carries the flavors of the crème brûlée in cookie form.
Darlings, these cookies are a prime example of what happens when you’re randomly scrolling the internet. Honestly, I’ve had to all but stay off social media recently for mental health, but it does mean that I read my news app (mostly food) more often. I’m still not sure if reading the one instead of the other helps, but it seems to. Either way, I definitely swapped social media scrolling time for baking these cookies, so yay!
There was a clickbait-y story on my news app talking about creme brulee cookies at a bakery in California. They sounded absolutely wonderful and I *needed* one! The only problem is, that’s about a week’s drive away. Soooooo….
You know what had to happen, right?
What makes a creme brulee cookie?
If the thought of translating creme brulee to a cookie appeals to you, this cookie is definitely for you! The thing is, it can be challenging to translate a creamy, custardy dessert to cookie form.
For this recipe, I decided to use a brown sugar cookie base. The cookie dough has a tender and moist crumb. Importantly, it makes the perfect wrapper for a pastry cream filling and carrier for a crunchy burnt sugar topping.
For the filling, I make a classic vanilla pastry cream. I have a recipe posted here, but you’ll only need half the recipe for the cookies. Personally, I think it’s worth making the full batch and using the rest elsewhere. Or make a double batch of the cookies. You might want to!
Finally, we add granulated sugar and torch it to make a crème brûlée’s signature crunchy topping! You definitely don’t want to skip this step because it’s the perfect finishing touch. Biting into a tender cookie with custard center and crunchy sugar topping is really an experience!
A few recipe notes…
First, I definitely recommend making a pastry cream for the filling. BUT, I also totally understand that this can feel really daunting if you’re a newer baker or haven’t yet gotten into pastries.
I can’t think of any pre-made alternatives at the store, but you can mix up a small box of vanilla pudding (add a little extra extract) and it should do quite well.
Second, have a small bowl of granulated sugar ready to sprinkle on the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven. If you wait until the cookies have cooled, you won’t get as good coverage.
Sprinkle the sugar onto the just-baked cookies, but let them cool and chill them before torching. In theory, you don’t have to chill them. But when the cookies are cold, you can hold the flame on the sugar longer, creating a better crust.
The sugar crust won’t stay crunchy overnight. Don’t torch all the cookies at once unless you’re sharing that same day. The cookie base will impart too much moisture and break down the crunch in the sugar crust overnight.
Since the sugar topping will have slightly melted into the hot cookies, it will stay. That way, you can use your kitchen torch to create the burnt sugar topping on demand.
The cookies also need to be stored in the refrigerator because of the cream filling. Keep them in an airtight container and they’re fine up to a week. You can remove the number of cookies you’d like and torch the sugar topping just before serving.
Naturally, you have to wait for the hot sugar to cool to get crunchy. Thankfully, that only takes about 5 seconds with a cold cookie!
I hope you love these creme brulee cookies, darlings. Happy baking!
- 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup prepared pastry cream or vanilla pudding
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. You want to beat air into the mixture to give the cookie structure.
- Scrape the sides of the bowl. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Scrape the bowl again.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter and egg in three batches, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Use a medium cookie scoop to portion out the dough.
- Cut the top 1/3 off each cookie dough ball. Use a teaspoon to make a deep indentation in the bottom half of each cookie. Fill each with about a teaspoon-sized dollop of pastry cream.
- Slightly flatten the top of the cookie dough and shape carefully over the bottom. Seal the cookie well.
- Once all the cookies have been formed, place them in the refrigerator to chill. At this point, you can also place some in the freezer for baking later.
- While the cookies are chilling, preheat your oven to 375 F with oven racks positioned in the top middle and bottom middle positions.
- When the oven has come to temperature, line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange cookies on the baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.
- As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle each generously with granulated sugar.
- Let the cookies sit for 5 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
- Place the baked cookies on a foil-lined baking sheet and place them in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.
- Once cold, use a kitchen torch to burn the sugar at the top of each cookie you plan to enjoy that day. Enjoy!
- Store chilled, leftover cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. When you're ready to enjoy a cookie, burn the sugar with the torch so you can enjoy a nice crunchy crust!
- A kitchen torch is the best option to make the sugar topping on the cookies. A broiler won't work quite as well.
- If you use salted butter instead of unsalted, you may omit the salt in the recipe.
- Be sure to torch the cookies over a flame-safe surface! Parchment paper will catch fire easily. Aluminum foil is safe and will prevent damage to your baking sheets.
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