Lavender Crème Brûlée

By Georgeanne Brennan

Although we think of lavender as a perfume, it also has culinary uses. Used culinarily, lavender exudes a nuanced peppery flavor, with a hint of intense aroma. Here the lavender is combined with a bit of vanilla bean to add a familiar background note to the unexpected flavor of lavender. It is especially attractive to garnish these custards with a sprig of rosemary, either fresh or dried.

  • Yield: 4 servings

All you need for this recipe and more...


  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1-inch piece vanilla bean, split 
  • 2 tablespoons culinary lavender (untreated) blossoms, dried
  • 4 sprigs culinary lavender (untreated), fresh or dried, for garnish 
  • Boiling water
  • 3 tablespoons finely packed brown sugar
  • Ice cubes


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. 

2. Have ready four ¾ cup heatproof ramekins and a baking dish just large enough to hold the ramekins.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks until thickened, about 2 minutes. 

 In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cream and sugar, stirring until the sugar melts, and small bubbles appear around the edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla bean and the dried lavender blossoms and let stand for 35 to 40 minutes.  The longer the mixture stands, the more pronounced the flavor will be. Taste after 30 minutes. 

4. When the flavor is to your liking, strain the mixture through a fine-meshed Chinoise or other fine-meshed wire strainer into a bowl. 

5. Gradually whisk the cream mixture into the egg yolks and strain again. 

Fill each ramekin to within ¼-inch of the rim. 

6. Place the ramekins in the baking dish and pour boiling water around them to reach half way up the sides of the ramekins.

7. Place in the preheated oven and bake until the custards are set but still a bit jiggly in the middle and a thin, slightly golden skin has formed on the top, 35 to 40 minutes.