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Yuzu Cremes Brulees

If you were to visit our house right now, you’d be wondering if Christmas is really just a a week away. Oh, we have a small tree up in the living room but that’s about it. No present wrapped up underneath and a few of Christmas decorations here and there in the house. We have gifts almost all ready to go for everyone but we can’t leave them out since they are of the edible kind. The pupps have a tendency to get in trouble with bows and ornaments!

I like the feeling of turning the kitchen and dining room into some Santa’s Edible Gift Workshop. The oven is on all the time, boxes, papers and ribbons cover most of the table. I also appreciate putting my feet up and taking in the spirit of the holidays by digging my spoon into of these Yuzu Cremes Brulees.


Fresh Yuzu

I could feel sad that we are not going home this year for the holidays but I don’t. We are grateful to be busy at work with little time to think about being away from the rest of the family.

B’s family has always made me feel loved as their own, especially during big holidays. Some friends drop by for tea and cookies and some friends send goodies like Todd and Diane gifting me with a precious delivery of fresh yuzu for Christmas.

When they sent some Calamansi limes they also included three little yuzu fruits. I guess they heard me sigh "more please!" all the way to California and sent more. The first three yuzus yielded enough juice to make two doll house sized yuzu curd tarts.

We ate them as soon as they came out of the oven and I never got the chance to take pictures. I got this new box the same day B. was asking me for creme brulees. In the 12 years we have been together I have never figured this out: every year around Christmas, he asks for cremes brulees.

He’s not picky mind you, any flavor will do and he loves trying new things. Hence, some of the yuzu fruits ended up being used for custards.


Yuzu Creme Brulee

If you have never had yuzu, think of it as the Rolls Royce of citrus fruit. Every time I am lucky to get some, I can’t help but feel like I am holding a clementine sized grapefruit cloaked as a lemon, fragrant like Meyer lemons, seedy like a mandarine and as easy to peel as a tangerine. See what I mean…

Just as I hold yuzu in high regards, B. gives cremes brulees close to a royalty status around here. Hence it seemed fitting to combine both in one dessert. Todd and Diane sent me two types, yuzu and Kabosu and the latter were perfect to impart as much flavor as possible to the custards.

They have more juice, less seeds and rind than yuzu. I zested the Kabosu, pureed the flesh (minus the seeds) and threw all this in the cream base of the brulees, much like as if I were using vanilla. I also let the batter steep overnight in the fridge, exactly as I do with straight vanilla bean creme brulee.


Yuzu Creme Brulee

I was worried B. would frown but he asked for seconds and declared these the best ones he’s had so far. Believe me when I say, he has many years of Creme Brulee research attached to his resume! And they are gluten free which is perfect for me as I can eat my share too!

Thank you to all of you participating in Menu for Hope, either as item donors or item bidders, or both. You guys are awesome. Check the progress of the fundraising here and keep spreading the word! Thanks!


Yuzu Creme Brulee

Yuzu Creme Brulees:

Makes 6-8

Note: Since yuzu isn’t the easiest thing to find, I’ve come up with a concoction to get pretty close to the taste. I am still experimenting but so far the following has been very promising: juice and zest of one lemon, zest of one mandarine and enough grapefruit flesh to take the whole mixture to about 1/3 cup.

Creme brulees are easy to make and require few ingredients. They are however considered royalty because they need to be handled properly to achieve the right texture. They should be smooth all the way through and once caramelized on top, they should have 3 levels of temperature from top-hot to middle-warm to bottom-cold.

I say "should" because let’s face it, the creme brulees police isn’t going to come after you if they are not what a red-faced angry French chef would expect "perfect". (talking from experience, believe me). Anyways…

For the creme brulee filling:

6 egg yolks
1/2 cup (100gr) sugar
2 cups heavy cream
3 yuzu, zested and pureed to get about 1/3 cup pulp/juice

For the sugar crust:

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup granulated sugar (50gr to 100gr)

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until pale and thick (3-4 minutes). Reserve.
In the meantime, place the cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to asimmer. Add the citrus mixture.

When the cream is hot, slowly pour it over the reserved egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent the yolks from curdling. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

When ready to bake:

Preheat the oven to 350F (325F if using convection). Place 6-8 ramekins (depending on size) in a deep baking pan. Set aside.

Strain the mixture into a 3-4 cup measuring container, preferably with a spout as it makes it much easier to pour. Discard the yuzu or citrus mixture. Pour into the ramekins until about 1/4 to 1/2 inch from the rim
Place the baking pan in the oven and pour enough hot water to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before removing the ramekins from the pan.

Refrigerate until completely cold. When ready to serve, sprinkle each creme brulees with 1 tablespoon sugar and caramelize the tops with a blow torch (or use the broiler in your oven on high – the results are not quite the same though).

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Deb Mele December 18, 2009 um 2:08 am

I honestly never heard of Yuzu before but your recipe makes me want to find some.

Gaby December 18, 2009 um 2:10 am

all these yuzu posts make me want to plant a tree and get some for myself! The creme brulee looks heavenly!

Jessica December 18, 2009 um 2:19 am


Alexandra December 18, 2009 um 2:29 am

I love your description of the 'yuzu'…your detailed account left no room for interpretation, as I have never heard of yuzus before! Inspiring!

ps: I attempted your macarons…they pretty much turned out except that some almonds chunks remained. I didnt pulse long enough. Needless to say, I will try it again, as they were delightfully scrumptious. I do wonder, is there supposed to be a stickiness to the macaron? It did diminish the day after.

Shao December 18, 2009 um 2:31 am

What a treat! I wish I have access to yuzu in my city but it's so hard to find here in Philadelphia. I do have a bottle of yuzu syrup. Do you think I would be able to sub that for the zest in the filling?

Chaitali December 18, 2009 um 3:10 am

I've never gotten the perfectly caramelized top. I always end up burning the tops or heating it all the way through. How many minutes do you put it under the broiler?
The tip about steeping the batter overnight is superb! Thanks!

Nads' Bakery December 18, 2009 um 3:23 am

Yuzu huh? I must try one of these Rolls Royces of citrus fruits!

Rambling Tart December 18, 2009 um 3:32 am

I love these! Creme brulee is a huge favorite for me, and the notion of citrus mixed in is fantastic. 🙂 Such lovely pictures too – the powdered sugar "snow" is perfect 🙂

Reginald@CeramicCanvas December 18, 2009 um 3:34 am


This is beyond gorgeous.

Looks absolutely amazing.

And I bet the yuzu adds a

nice & bright lift to the


Great job.


Helene December 18, 2009 um 3:51 am

Alexandra: you can always sift the almonds to remove lumps. Macarons are supposed to be crunchy on top and soft middle to bottom.

Chaitali: I never use a broiler as I find it tends to cook the cream even more. My instinct would be to turn it on high, keep the door cranked open and watch until the sugar gets caramelized. Depending on hot your broiler is, maybe 5 minutes? It varies.

Thanks everyone!

Anonymous December 18, 2009 um 4:58 am

And I was feeling pretty darn smug today after I came across some meyers lemons. I Grabbed a box, so proud of my find. Yuzu? Who knew?

Neel | Learn Food Photography December 18, 2009 um 5:17 am

Ohhhh my God!! This is so amazing. The photographs are just so amazing. Totally amazing, love the use of natural light. totally awesomeness spread all around

The last one is just so amazing

Helene, everytime I have see your photographs I just go speechless with such an awesome compositions and photographs.

Wonderfully done!

Neel from Learn Food Photography

allie December 18, 2009 um 5:43 am

so creative! your pictures are beautiful and all of the recipes are fantastic. did you go to pastry school?

Quinn December 18, 2009 um 6:34 am

Very nice Tartelette….just wondering how did you do the lemon strip twirl thingy? And how do you even remove the peel so nicely from the Yuzu.

Thanks and cheers!

gfs December 18, 2009 um 6:59 am

creme brulee is a favourite of mine and with a newly gifted blow torch I can't wait to try some. the yuzu sounds like such an interesting flavour and I just adore the first photo the blue, white and speckled 'snow' on the edge of the plate – delightful!

fromBAtoParis December 18, 2009 um 7:36 am

Great post! I think I will have to travel to ypour place to get to know these Yuzu, AND the Calamansi limes…never heard of them here in France….
Bravo, chapeau !!!!

Helene December 18, 2009 um 1:23 pm

from BAtoParis: you can find Calamansi, also know as Calamondin in ethnic grocery store. I do when I get home. I have not seen yuzu there on the other hand.

Quinn: the skin of a yuzu is much looser on the flesh than that of a lemon or lime. As I wrote, they are as easy to peel as a tangerine. I cut strips of skin, blanched them for a minute and twirled them on a bamboo skewer.

Thank you!

noëlle {simmer down!} December 18, 2009 um 1:25 pm

I absolutely love those dishes with the little handles… do you mind sharing where they're from? They look like they'd be handy for things like individual soufflés as well.

keiko December 18, 2009 um 1:39 pm

this looks absolutely lovely Helen – I so wish I could have some yuzu here in the UK and that you lived near me so that you can cook for me! Hope you're feeling better soon, take care. xx

mouni December 18, 2009 um 1:48 pm

your crème brulée is so fabulous! bravo! i am a big fan of your blog and i tried some recipes, thnx!!!!

Helene December 18, 2009 um 2:05 pm

noelle: not sure which ones you are thinking of but the white ones are from Target and the little polka dot one is part of a set my mother brought me back from France.

Keiko: nothing would make me happier than to cook for you but I'd have you cook for me too! You are so talented when it comes to food!

Shao: re-yuzu juice: I would use 1/4 cup then of straight juice, and make sure there is no salt added.

Jason Sandeman December 18, 2009 um 2:19 pm

What alovely recipe. Yuzu juice is super expensive up here, but worth every penny. I can also attest to what it is like to have the French chef red faced, yelling about "perfection"

The recipe is spot on.

Patricia Scarpin December 18, 2009 um 4:08 pm

These are fabulous, Helen! I love how golden they look – very festive.

I wish I lived nearby to receive such delicious and beautiful gift, made by you. 😉


Alexandra December 18, 2009 um 5:07 pm

Thank you for your prompt and helpful response!

Anonymous December 18, 2009 um 5:24 pm

I love, love, love the flavor of yuzu. It's something I grew up with, coming from Taiwan then lived in Thailand for 6 years. Though the yuzu I find in San Francisco are often quite disappointing- not enough juice nor sweetness.

This creme brulee does look amazing. Since I've finally mastered flan, I've always wanted to try creme brulee as my next step. But I guess like you've said, without a blow torch just isn't quite the same. Quite unfortunate!

Erika from The Pastry Chef At Home December 18, 2009 um 6:42 pm

Yuzu is such a fantastic flavor…such a good idea using it to cut through the richness of creme brulee!

Lauren December 18, 2009 um 9:39 pm

Oh my goodness! Seeing all of these yuzus makes me want to try one! I've never seen any in my neck of the woods, but I'll keep my eyes open =D.

Y December 18, 2009 um 10:46 pm

I love yuzu! You can't get them here in fresh-fruit form, which is annoying. I use the next best thing, which is a pasteurised juice. Last thing I made was a yuzu steamed custard, and I don't think B even managed to try one (yes, I love them that much :P)

♥peachkins♥ December 19, 2009 um 12:34 am

First time I've heard of Yuzu. The creme brulee looks perfect!

El December 19, 2009 um 1:05 am

You did it again…beautiful!

Anonymous December 19, 2009 um 4:19 am

This is the most beautiful creme brulee i ever seen. And i bet it's the most delicious one too! Isn't it fun to cook with yuzu? 🙂 I just wish it was easier to find… you lucky duckling, you. 🙂

Maria December 19, 2009 um 4:28 am

These look divine. But I too have to admit that I have never tried Yuzu. I would love to however, and especially in this creme brulee!

J2Kfm December 19, 2009 um 8:26 am

I have never even heard of Yuzu! Cute, easily remembered name, no doubt. It's probably tarty and tangy, for all I know.

pigpigscorner December 19, 2009 um 12:01 pm

It's beautiful!!! and yuzu..great idea!

candice December 19, 2009 um 2:22 pm

Unfortunately, I've never encountered the legendary yuzu. 🙁 Thank you for the pseudo-yuzu zest combination though! This looks beautiful, especially with the powdered "snow" 🙂

Claire December 19, 2009 um 9:36 pm

your photos are absolutely gorgeous! I'm so envious

Katie December 20, 2009 um 6:02 am

I've never heard of Yuzu before, but those puddings look absolutely delicious! I love how you got the rind all curly – great presentation.

Christy December 20, 2009 um 12:08 pm

How lucky, Helen!! We couldn't get fresh yuzu (and I've never even heard of Kaboshu) in Melbourne! Even though we could get shiso leaves, the other Japanese pantry staple. Yuzu creme brulee sound so refreshing and light!

Auriana December 20, 2009 um 2:52 pm

Creme brulees are one of my favorite desserts! It's so rare to find yuzu in its actual form but juice is readily available online.
How much juice should I substitute in your recipe?

Anonymous December 20, 2009 um 3:46 pm

Thank you for all the gluten free treats and desserts you have been featuring lately. My son is celiac and it's been difficult to make him sweets that were gf but that was just because I failed to recognize that so many are actually gf to start with like creme brulees, panna cotta, custards, fruit salad, etc…

Candace, OR.

Helene December 20, 2009 um 6:08 pm

Auriana: I would use 1/4 cup of juice instead of 1/3 cup juice+pulp combined.

Candace: glad all these postings could help!

J2Kfm: it's sour for sure but less than a lemon and really fragrant. I would not recommended biting into one just for "fun" though!

kiss my spatula December 21, 2009 um 6:53 am

i'm sure santa would love a peek at your gorgeous edible gift workshop!

Choco_lemon December 21, 2009 um 2:02 pm

The photos are wonderful!

Betty Jo December 21, 2009 um 5:10 pm

Just discovered your blog and it is wonderful, just like your photos! ♥

Simones Kitchen December 21, 2009 um 6:03 pm

Gorgeous looking creme brulee, although I wouldn't really know what yuzu is.. Sounds exotic!

Myrna December 21, 2009 um 6:09 pm

Thank you so much fore bringing these to dinner the other day. They were fabulous! Thanks for keeping the seeds for us to grow a yuzu tree, well…try at least!

Love you sweetie!

Jen Yu December 22, 2009 um 4:35 am

YES! Creme brulee deserves royalty status!! That stuff is the silky goodness of true love *sigh*. And thanks for 1) reminding me I have yuzu and 2) showing me ways to use it! You are fearless with new ingredients whereas I sit and fret over them, afraid to waste them on something that tanks. Is it me or is it always sunshiny in your kitchen? mais, bien sur!! 🙂

Marc @ NoRecipes December 23, 2009 um 3:52 am

Ooooo my favourite citrus! I still remember one of the first times I visited your blog and found the Coconut Pana Cotta with Warm Lemon Poppyseed Cake and Yuzu Mandarin Sauce and you wrote me back telling me you can get yuzu juice in a bottle! Thanks for your friendship and Happy Holidays!

Amazigh December 24, 2009 um 1:25 am

This looks great. I planted a yuzu tree over the summer and now have a small crop ready to go. 'Twas the night before Christmas, and I'm going to make this my Christmas dessert, and my first foray into this fabulous fruit. I'm sure it will be as good as it looks.

Amazigh December 26, 2009 um 1:49 pm

I did this, and it was great. This was my first time using yuzu, and it is absolutely terrific. It has a taste and aroma (BIG aroma) somewhere between a lemon, lime, and orange, with much more tang. The possibilities are endless. Preserved yuzu (like you would make preserved lemons) should be great; yuzucello (like limoncello) would be awesome; candied yuzu skin would be a natural. Any more ideas on how to put yuzu to work would be appreciated. And thank you, Tartelette, for your post.

Helene December 26, 2009 um 2:29 pm

Amamzigh: looks like you pretty much covered it all. From my description in the post, you can see that you can use it in any recipe calling for citrus.
Glad you liked it.

Thank you everyone!

Quinn January 2, 2010 um 12:00 am

Helen, thank you so much! I make the tangerine curls for Christmas dessert and everyone love it! It totally lifted my dessert plate and swep everyone off their feet!


Bluesummers January 6, 2010 um 6:55 am

Thanks a lot for sharing, the color is perfect for my friend's birthday bash, might as well cook for her! Thanks a lot for this wonderful idea.

Anonymous January 28, 2010 um 2:43 pm

What a lovely method of marrying Yuzu with cream brûlée. Can't wait to try out this recipe!

Chef Chuck July 19, 2010 um 7:53 pm

This looks so bight and wonderful! And must taste the same!! Thank you for sharing:)

Anonymous March 16, 2014 um 3:14 am

I'm fortunate enough to live across the street from a Yuzu tree and have always wanted to bake with the fruit. Thanks so much for posting this excellent recipe! I made 1/2 a batch last night and they were fantastic!

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