Beautiful crème brûlée tart made with a sweet shortbread crust, and flavored with a subtle orange custard underneath a crispy caramel brûléed top. It’s heaven at first bite!
It’s the weekend, let’s celebrate with a lovely sweet dessert to enjoy with family and friends. Today I treat you with a French classic that I revisited a little bit: a crème brûlée… tart! It looks fancy and sophisticated but is indeed rather simple to prepare, while it’s made with just a few basic ingredients.
Crème brûlée has always been one of my favorite desserts. Like everyone, I love tapping the crispy part on top with the back of the spoon, until it cracks out and reveals the soft, creamy, and rich custard underneath. This simple pleasure gets me every single time. I’m pretty sure you’re the same too. Aren’t you? Oh, and I’m falling for the custard itself, that I like to flavor differently each time (with vanilla bean, tonka bean, or any other flavor depending on my mood).
In this tart, I added a tangy twist to the custard, using fresh orange juice and zest. Please don’t ever consider replacing the freshly squeezed oranges with a bottle of orange juice, that will never give this much flavor to the custard. The zests in particular enhance the flavor here. The acidity contained in the oranges also cuts the sweetness and bring freshness to the dessert, that is chilled before serving.
The particularity of this crème brûlée tart is the crust: a sweet, extremely soft shortbread crust. Just place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until they come together, finishing by hand to shape the dough into a firm ball. This dough is fragile, slightly sticky, and would not work very well if you tried to roll it out with a rolling pin. For this reason, you need to place the dough in a previously greased pie dish and press it with your fingers so it sticks to the bottom and sides. I usually use the inside of my hands to flatten the bottom, and cut the upper part of the sides with a sharp knife to make sure they are even.
I also recommend you use a pie dish with a removable bottom as your crème brûlée tart will look beautiful when served to your guests. If you do not own one however, just use a regular pie dish. If the crème brûlée is amazing itself, what my guests loved about this recipe is definitely the crust. Soft and sweet at the same time, the crust tastes almost like a buttery cookie underneath the custard. Its soft texture is due to the use of powdered sugar, and it’s also what makes it very fragile and delicate to handle if not by hand. Pre-bake the crust with heavy weights (dried beans) first, and then put it back in the oven with the custard, making sure the sides do not burn.
Then of course the final touch to the creme brûlée is the crispy caramelized top made with a blow torch. Chill the tart completely in the fridge first, and just before serving, prepare this final step: sprinkle the remaining sugar all over the tart and blow torch the topping part until golden. If you do it too much in advance and place the tart back in the refrigerator before serving, it will leak and lose its crispy texture completely.
I use a culinary blow torch to do the job but if you don’t own one, you can simply place the tart in the upper part of the oven set on grill position. Look closely through the door to make sure you don’t burn the top (even if “brûlée” literally means “burned” in French). You want a lovely golden finish, creating a crispy texture that contrasts with the custard underneath. Serve as it is, or with a side of whipped cream.
- 1 ½ cups (180g) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (110g) powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ sticks (170g) cold butter, diced
- ½ cup (120 ml) heavy cream
- ⅔ cup (133g) + 2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
- 1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest
- ½ cup (120 ml) fresh orange juice
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 large whole egg
- Grease a 9-inch (23 cm) pie dish with removable bottom.
- Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until dough starts to form clumps, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Gather dough with your hands, and place in the pie dish.
- Flatten the dough with your hands, evenly to the bottom and about 1 inch up the sides of the pan. Lightly prick the bottom of the pie all over with a fork, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest in refrigerator for 1 hour. Remove the plastic wrap.
- Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C). Line the pie with parchment paper, and cover with heavy weights (dried beans for instance).
- Place the pie on a baking tray and pre-bake for 10-12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove the pie from the oven and reduce oven temperature to 300F (150C).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, sugar, orange zest, juice, egg yolks, and the whole egg. Mix until well combined.
- Carefully pour the filling into the pie, and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until custard is set but still wiggles in center when gently shaken.
- Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes (the tart will continue to cook until center is set).
- Before serving, sprinkle the remaining tablespoons of sugar evenly over top of the tart. Move blowtorch flame evenly back and forth just above top of tart, avoiding crust, until sugar is caramelized and slightly browned.