Crème brûlée served with grappa fruit compote

June 24, 2009 (Last Updated: January 11, 2019)
Crème brûlée served with grappa fruit compote recipe

Recipe by Rudi Liebenberg, executive chef of The Saxon Boutique Hotel and Spa in Sandhurst, Johannesburg.

Crème brûlée is such a classic dish. Sweet, satisfying, and delicious every time, it’s the perfect dessert. Crème brûlée served with grappa fruit compote adds a delightful twist while remaining faithful to the traditional sweet sensations.

Rudi’s tips

• I add a pinch of salt to my mixture, as salt is a mineral and assists in the bonding of the proteins.
• Placing a towel under the ramekins will prevent them from having direct contact with the tray so that they don’t burn. The towel also ensures that the dishes do not vibrate if the water boils around them.
• Use a jug or teapot to pour the hot water into the baking pan. It’s easier to pour and less likely to splash into the custards. Pour the water into the baking tray when it has been placed in the oven.
• It is important to harden the sugar without reheating the custard or letting it cook further, so use the blowtorch as briefly as possible. Use a fine sugar for the crust so that it forms a thin crust quickly. Don’t make the crust ahead as it will melt; make it just before serving.
• If you don’t have a blowtorch you can use the grill, but take care that it doesn’t heat the custard too much. You  can also make a caramel and pour it onto the custard, but it could make the crust too thick.

Crème brûlée served with grappa fruit compote

Serves: 6
Cooking Time: 40 mins + overnight for setting


  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 600ml fresh cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 50g castor sugar
  • a pinch of salt (optional) (see Rudi’s Tips)
  • Compote

  • 50ml water
  • 60ml (¼ cup) sugar
  • 8 fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 8 fresh gooseberries, quartered
  • 60g frozen berries, defrosted
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) grappa
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) castor sugar



Split the vanilla pod and scrape out the seeds. Add the pod and seeds to the cream and scald. Strain and discard the pod.


Combine the egg yolks and sugar, using a fork to mix lightly. Gradually add the vanilla cream to the egg mixture while whisking. Add a pinch of salt, if using. Leave to cool, then refrigerate overnight.


Preheat the oven to 150ºC.


Place a towel in a deep baking tray and place 6 ramekins on the towel (see Rudi’s Tips below).


Strain the mixture and pour it into the ramekins. Place the tray in the oven and pour hot water into the baking tray around the ramekins (see Rudi’s Tips). Bake until the custards are just set, about 25 – 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and chill.


For the compote, bring the water and sugar to the boil in a small saucepan. Remove from the heat and let it cool slightly.


Mix the berries and drizzle with the grappa. Add the sugar mixture and stir carefully.


Just before serving, sprinkle the custards with the sugar and caramelise with a blowtorch (see Rudi’s Tips below). Spoon the compote over and serve.


To drink: Such a classic dish requires no disturbance, so serve it merely with still Evian water at room temperature.


Send this to a friend