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Caramelised Topping on Creme Brulee

Asked by JacquieC. Answered on 7th January 2015

Full question

Hi, I made Nigella's Creme Brulee last night and would like to get ahead. I plan to eat it tonight, can I put the sugar on top and caramalise it this morning, then put it into the fridge until later?

Our answer

Creme Brulee is topped with a caramel crust made by melting sugar under a hot grill. Nigella uses demerara (turbinado) sugar for her topping as it is a raw type of sugar that already has a slightly caramel flavour. Unfortunately however we do not think that for the best results it is wise to do the caramel topping in the morning and then leave the creme brulee dish in the fridge.

All sugars, including demerara sugar, have a tendancy to attract water (they are called hygroscopic) and you will find that if you put the caramelised sugar in the fridge, which has a slightly humid environment, it will turn soft after a while. If it is left for too long then it could also start to liquefy slightly. You could however melt the topping 1 to 2 hours ahead of dinner and then store the dish back in the fridge. Take the dish out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving (maybe when you serve the main course) so that the creme brulee has lost its fridge chill when you serve it.

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