I apologize for the lack of entries lately — I’ve been completely invested in spending most of my time with my mom, because she’s my favorite.  It’s hard to believe that her visit is soon coming to an end, a week to be exact.  The entire situation still seems surreal to me.  I’m hoping that the day of, I don’t have a complete mental meltdown and cling to my mother’s leg screaming “NO DON’T LEAVE DONT DO IT!” as she’s trying to get out of the car to catch her plane, but I’m not making any promises.  ^_^

It’s been a blast though — we’ve been sharing recipes, she’ll cook her Chinese dishes and I’ll cook her some French American dishes — one of her favorites discoveries has been the creme brulee.  She kept Ooooing and AAAaaahing over this recipe so I figure I’d share it with yall, it’s pretty epic not gonna lie.  Aside from that she’s been feeding me traditional Chinese medicines that make my stomach churn but I take it anyways because apparently it’s good for me (or so she claims). It’s just unfortunate that most of the concoctions she makes taste like feet…   just kidding mom, you’re the best! But seriously, I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out her secret of staying forever young.  I’ll share pictures soon, you’ll see what I mean…

One of the first desserts I learned working in at a French restaurant was the Creme Brulee and Souffle.  Souffle is definitely the more temperamental dessert and the failure rate is much higher than creme brulee – so we’ll warm up to that recipe later.  I love this creme brulee recipe because of its soft delicate texture and of course everyone’s favorite part: the crunchy burnt sugar on top, hence it’s latter name — burnt cream.   Plus it always adds a dash of sophistication and excitement to any dinner party when you bust out the torch!  I mean seriously guys, who doesn’t like a little fire show?

Ingredients for Citrus Cardamom Creme Brulee:

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lime zest
  • 4 tablespoons raw sugar

Preheat oven to 260 degrees F (150 degrees C) and line the bottom of a large baking pan with water.  Bring a large pot of water to boil. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cream, cardamom, citrus zest and 1/4 cup sugar and salt stirring occasionally 4 to 5 minutes, until steam rises. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Pour hot cream into yolks, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all cream is incorporated. Pour mixture into four 6 oz. ramekins.

Place ramekins in the baking dish with water and cover the whole pan loosely with foil.  , and place dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into dish to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover whole pan loosely with foil. Bake 60 to 75 minutes in the preheated oven, until custard is just set. Chill ramekins in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.  Before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of raw sugar over each custard. Use a kitchen torch or oven broiler to brown top, 2 to 3 minutes.


  1. Sara says: 8 Sep ’10 • 00:52:10

    Love Creme Brulee~ Love the fact that you have added Cardamom, Cinnamon & Star Anise for extra intense exotic flavor!!! Beautiful Pics!!! :)


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:02:30

      Thank you Sara :)

  2. Lora says: 8 Sep ’10 • 01:12:44

    What a wonderful flavor combination! Your pictures are incredible.


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:02:47

      Thank you Lora!

  3. anncoo says: 8 Sep ’10 • 02:35:07

    Lovely Creme Brulee with my 3 fav spices in it. Can’t wait to read your recipe. Take care and say Hi to your Mom on my behalf ;) )


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:03:22

      Those are some of my favorite spices too, they just go so well together. Thanks for the well wishes anncoo :) my mom loves your site!

  4. Olive says: 8 Sep ’10 • 02:43:50

    Hi Joy!
    your creme brulee looks so tempting, love the photos and I really like your dessert spoon..so cool! :)

    ..can’t wait to see your mom’s pics..I hope she’ll let you share her secrets to looking young! ;)


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:03:52

      Hey Olive! Thanks for the kind words :) I will post pictures soon, she is pretty amazing.

  5. penny aka jeroxie says: 8 Sep ’10 • 05:15:29

    Secret to looking young? Looking forward to those photos.

    Nice looking creme brulee!


  6. Lisa~Korean American Mommy says: 8 Sep ’10 • 07:10:30

    OH this looks amazing! And don’t you love moms. My mom is also very youthful and I wish I can get to spend more time with her. Hope you had a great time with you mom and looking forward to seeing the photos!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:04:30

      Thank you so much Lisa — Moms are the best :)

  7. RavieNomNoms says: 8 Sep ’10 • 08:11:50

    This looks incredible, thank you for sharing!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:04:42

      :) thank you!

  8. Cristina @ TeenieCakes says: 8 Sep ’10 • 09:45:26

    Gosh Joy! Just love your images. Enjoyed your post and it’s so refreshing to hear someone having such a loving and respectful relationship with their parent. I adore creme brulee…need one of those fun torches! ;)


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:05:04

      Thank you Cristina :) Those fun torches are a must — put it on your christmas list!

  9. Isabelle says: 8 Sep ’10 • 10:18:04

    Creme brulee is my favourite! The citrus and spice flavouring sounds really wonderful… it’s kind of reminiscent of Crema Catalana minus the cinnamon.
    So glad you’re having such a great time with your mom. I’m sure it’s hard to know she’s moving so far away, but with the amount of fun you’re having, it’s guaranteed she’ll come back for regular visits! :)


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:05:53

      I have never had Crema Catalana — but I’m guessing its awesome. I miss my mom but I am glad she has having such a blast in Shanghai, I wouldn’t have it any other way :)

  10. [email protected] says: 8 Sep ’10 • 10:30:58

    your styling on the creme brulees is lovely! the star anise makes a perfect adornment!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:06:06

      Thank you Jana!

  11. alison says: 8 Sep ’10 • 11:27:32

    i love the flavors of your creme brulee!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:06:15

      Thanks alison :)

  12. Paula says: 8 Sep ’10 • 13:40:10

    oh, I love this combination!


  13. J DUBBS says: 8 Sep ’10 • 15:49:53

    that looks amazing


  14. Adelina Badalyan says: 8 Sep ’10 • 17:09:12

    I was wondering where you’ve been. I am glad you’re having a great time with your mom. I wish you could see her more often. Thanks for thes beautiful photos and mouth-watering recipe.


  15. Jeanette says: 8 Sep ’10 • 18:43:14

    Did you use any star anise in the actual creme brulee? Or did you just use it as a garnish?


  16. Tawny @http://theyearofthecookie.blogspot.com/ says: 8 Sep ’10 • 21:57:47

    This looks good and your pictures look so amazing!!


  17. Alesia says: 9 Sep ’10 • 03:32:16

    Your pictures are so breathtakingly yummy! And for you to infuse creme brulee with these spices (they are my favourite!) is simply brilliant. Love it!


  18. lululu says: 9 Sep ’10 • 11:58:24

    I’ve been looking for a perfect dessert for my husband’s birthday. And you’ve reminded me one of his favorites is creme burlee. Why I forgot? Because I’ve never imagined making it at home.
    Gonna do it now!
    Thank you.


  19. City Share says: 9 Sep ’10 • 13:57:51

    I love creme brulee, and your look fabulous. The photos are amazing. Savor the last week of your mom’s visit.


  20. blackbookkitchendiaries says: 9 Sep ’10 • 16:58:14

    i love the flavour combo in here.. really interesting…really yummy.


  21. Angie says: 9 Sep ’10 • 17:24:06

    I really loved the photos in this one, gets me all ready for autumn!


  22. …Something To Learn… says: 9 Sep ’10 • 21:59:59

    mmmm… cream and star anise… sounds and looks so delectable! As always, a beautiful post. Enjoy your time with your mom!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:12:26

      :) it is quite wonderful, thank you!!!

  23. LimeCake says: 10 Sep ’10 • 04:41:05

    such interesting flavours! this looks delicious!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:12:10

      Thank you mei!

  24. Cooking Gallery says: 10 Sep ’10 • 12:04:44

    The creme brulee looks fantastic! And congrats on being today’s top 9 :) !


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:11:58

      thank you so much!!!!

  25. Kim (Liv Life) says: 10 Sep ’10 • 15:43:38

    Gorgeous, gorgeous photos! I absolutely adore creme brulee. On a recent cruise to the tropics they had a vanilla version on the first night. On the 2nd night it wasn’t on the menu, but it sort of well… begged. The waiter indulged me and found one. Again on the third, and the fourth! By the 5th night I didn’t even have to ask, it just appeared. I’m thankful my heart didn’t clog up with all the calories, but it was worth every single one. I’ve never made it before, but yours are so beautiful, I think I must try!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:11:46

      Kim you are too funny!! I am going on a cruise in december, hopefully I will get the same treatment :)

  26. Dessert Man says: 10 Sep ’10 • 16:47:09

    Wow- the creme brulee looks fabulous! Love the star anise idea.


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:11:17

      Thank you dessert man :) !

  27. Klaire says: 11 Sep ’10 • 00:09:23

    this looks delicious


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:11:03

      Thanks Klaire!

  28. Sneh Roy says: 11 Sep ’10 • 07:45:35

    Just gorgeous! I can almost smell all the beautiful spices :-)


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:10:45

      hee hee thanks Sneh :) !

  29. Debby says: 11 Sep ’10 • 11:13:49

    I LOVE spices and this looks delicious


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:10:31

      Thanks Debby!!!

  30. lululu at home / Black Forest Cake says: 13 Sep ’10 • 01:16:47

    [...] I was planning to make creme brulee for my husband’s birthday after I saw Joy’s simple but perfect recipe. [...]


  31. zenchef says: 13 Sep ’10 • 21:58:36

    Yum!! What an absolutely brilliant creme brulee. I love the flavors you’ve got in there. While you’ll be clinging to your mom’s leg begging her not to leave i’ll be raiding your refrigerator for leftovers. Ok, you’re safe because i don’t live near but i would otherwise. Yes, yes. :)


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:10:04

      LOL you are so silly Zen :)

  32. fresh365 says: 15 Sep ’10 • 14:30:13

    I have a creme brulee torch from my bridal shower I have never used (over 4 years ago!). Which is crazy since I always order creme brulee when I am out! I think your gorgeous images are a sign!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:09:19

      :) IT IS! You must bring it out and let it breathe again :)

  33. Kitchen Butterfly says: 19 Sep ’10 • 09:38:37

    LOVE the flavours, especially the cardamom. Yum. Hope you haven’t cried your eyes out…I guess your Mum will be gone by now. Take it easy and stay well


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:08:47

      Thanks for the well wishes — I didn’t bawl my eyes out when she left…i bawled once I got into the car :( But all is well, I am happy for her!

  34. Nadia says: 19 Sep ’10 • 15:33:45

    Beautiful, Joy. The idea of cardamom infused creme brulee has been at the back of my mind for ages, am so glad you tried it out. lovely photos and your windmill spoon is so darling!


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:08:08

      Thank you nadia — my stepdad actually got the spoon I think in Dublin!

  35. lemonsandanchovies says: 22 Sep ’10 • 05:06:34

    I completely understand about your mom being your favorite–I feel the same way about mine. That said, your creme brulee is spectacular, I love the spice and citrus elements.


    • Joy Zhang says: 30 Sep ’10 • 01:14:23

      Thank you Jean — you are a sweetheart :)

  36. Marisa says: 30 Sep ’10 • 09:35:11

    So lovely having one’s mother visit, isn’t it? I can see why your mom liked this creme brulee – the fragrance as it was cooking with all those spices must’ve been heavenly.

    PS: Great pics!


  37. Asta from Villa Alps says: 4 Jan ’11 • 18:54:52

    Great photoes! I received a kitchen torch as a Christmas present and this creme brulee shall certainly be one of the first I will make. Thanks for sharing this recipe!


  38. No Onion Please says: 28 Apr ’11 • 10:35:00

    Hello! Thank you very much for this recipe, I’ve made it last weekend and it was really delicious. I expected the spices to give some more flavour, but they were barely noticeable. Even though I must say I loved it just the way it was! I will be definitely repeating it many times, and I recommend it to anyone who is wondering if they should try it or not :)


  39. brill says: 4 Dec ’11 • 00:40:20

    The recipe doesn’t specify using any star anise, except for garnish, but I did steep it in the cream as it was heating. Overall a very nice effect, but mild, as No Onion Please noted. I will increase the spices next time, or perhaps infuse longer, as this gave only a very delicate flavor, which was predominantly citrus. Lovely pictures, by the way.


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