The Cork’s Classic Crème Brûlée Recipe

The Cork’s Classic Crème Brûlée Recipe

If you’re looking for an easy and impressive dessert, look no further. Crème brûlée is a classic dessert everyone can enjoy and, even better, it brings a little theater into your dining experience with a torched sugar top. What’s nice about this dish is that you can prepare it days in advance, so you’re not left scrambling last minute to get a dessert together.

The earliest known recipe for crème brûlée dates back hundreds of years, although its exact origins are hotly debated. Regardless, this sweet custard dessert is enjoyed by people around the world, including patrons at The Cork. We’ve offered crème brûlée on our menu for decades—both classic vanilla and other seasonal flavors, like pumpkin!

Try making it at home with this simple yet decadent recipe:

The Cork’s Classic Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée (serves 8)

Prep time: 15 – 25 minutes
Cook time: 45 – 60 minutes


  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cups half and half
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract


1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
2. Combine the half and half with the heavy cream in a large saucepot until hot, but not boiling.
3. Separate the eggs and combine the yolks with the sugar and vanilla.
4. Slowly mix your egg, sugar and vanilla mixture with the hot cream mixture.

TIP: Be sure to do this slowly and carefully to avoid cooking the eggs. The goal is to bring everything up to temperature without scrambling your eggs!

5. Place 8 ramekins in a baking dish, then add room temperature or warm water to the baking dish until its ramekins are about halfway submerged.
6. Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins, leaving about ¼ inch at the top.

TIP: For the best presentation, wipe up any spills or drops on the side of the ramekins.

7. Cover each ramekin with foil and bake at 375 for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cooking varies, you’ll need to keep an eye on them.

TIP: Custard is done when there is a slight area in the middle size of a quarter that isn’t quite done. The custard will still be a little jiggly and the color will be pale with no browning.

8. Remove and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours until set.

When ready to serve:

1. Remove from the fridge just before serving and spread a tablespoon of sugar on each while still cold.

TIP: any granulated sugar will work, although we recommend turbinado or raw sugar for taste.

2. Caramelize the sugar top with a blow torch. Hold the torch a few inches above the crème brûlée and only torch until it’s lightly brown.

TIP: If you’re less familiar with using a blow torch, try practicing beforehand—or, make it an interactive dining experience by letting your guests torch their own!

The Art of Dessert

What do you think of when you hear the word “dessert?” Is it a moment in time, like your first-ever banana split after T-ball? Or is it a recipe your grandmother had bookmarked in her favorite cookbook? Regardless of what comes to mind, many of us have at least one fond memory when it comes to dessert—and we think that’s a special thing.

Whether you’ve been to The Cork once or you’ve been dining with us for decades, you’re probably familiar with our Famous Mudpie—but do you know what makes it such an outstanding dessert? Our philosophy. When it comes to crafting a great dish, we believe that, sometimes, simpler is better. A classic crème brûlée, a decadent slice of cheesecake, a refreshing chocolate mousse—these are a few staples on our menu, thanks to Chef Kirsten.

Chef Kirsten has been crafting desserts at The Cork for more than three decades, fine-tuning every recipe to help us satisfy Boulder’s sweet tooth. Her menus offer a well-rounded selection that gives every guest something they can enjoy: a dessert that stirs up a fond memory and creates a very special experience.

…and we’d like you to get to know her better…


So, you’ve been at The Cork for 31 years—what’s kept you here so long?

Chef Kirsten: I’ve just been here for so long and Gary, my husband, used to be the assistant general manager here. For years—I mean, decades—we worked together here. It’s just been a great place to work. Some of the employees, like the sous chef and the head chef, have been here longer than I have been—same with the general manager.

How do you come up with dessert ideas?

I’m a good recipe follower, that’s pretty key, because a lot of people aren’t. When I find recipes that I think I want to make, I tweak them a little bit. The way I put them together and plate them, I come up with my own ideas.

The Art of Dessert with Chef Kirsten - Making Biscotti
Chef Kirsten lays out biscotti dough

Is there any particular dish you’d say is your ‘favorite’ to make?

The specials are fun just because it’s a little more creativity. We have a great pecan pie recipe we’ll do, and that’s kind of a special… It’s like, ‘Wow I love pecan pie. I haven’t had it in a while, I think I’ll have a piece.’

What about your favorite to eat?

If someone has a chocolate truffle or a chocolate torte, I’d probably get something like that. I don’t know if Zolo’s still has it, but they had a banana crème pie that was one of my favorite things on the planet. I’ve never tried to make one, but it’s phenomenal. And I like cheesecake. That’s something I’ve carried on; It’s something I used to order as a kid—if cheesecake was on the menu, that’s what I got.

What do you like to do outside of work?

I went for a hike this morning, that’s my routine since I usually get in around noon. I go for a hike almost every morning.

Finally, surprise us! What would someone be surprised to know about you?

I don’t know… Since I’ve been around so long it feels like I’m an open book. But… I can’t carry a tune. I cannot carry a tune! People might not notice that I never sing.

Thank you, Kirsten!

We’re so grateful to our creative chefs who put together dishes that really “hit the spot!” With Chef Kirsten on our team, we always know we’re sending out beautiful desserts that are truly made with love. Come enjoy our favorite dishes and newest specials—join us for a great meal at lunch or dinner, or even just a few bites at happy hour… and make sure to leave room for dessert!

Chef Kirsten’s Belgian Chocolate Mousse Recipe


Yield: 16-18 (4oz) servings

Belgian Chocolate Mousse


14 oz bittersweet chocolate
4 oz milk chocolate
½ cup warm coffee
¼ cup liquor (Grand Marnier, kahlua, crème de cacao)
4 egg yolks
8 egg whites
2 ¼ cups cream


  1. Melt chocolate in a small metal bowl over a pot of boiling water (double boiler).
  2. In a large metal bowl, add coffee and liquor.
  3. Add melted chocolate. Whisk.
  4. Add egg yolks. Whisk till combined.
  5. In a mixer with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites until you see stiff peaks. Add to chocolate mixture.
  6. Beat heavy cream to medium stiff peaks. Add to chocolate mixture.
  7. Pour into glasses. Cover with wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  8. Serve with whipped cream and strawberries.