Earl Grey Crème Brûlée Tart is one of those desserts that will stay in your memory bank of downright delicious desserts! The sweet shortcrust pastry has ground earl grey tea leaves in the dough imparting a sensational taste and fragrance. The custard filling is also steeped with that beautiful bergamot taste and then the satisfying crack of caramelised sugar tops it off!
I’ve been bringing you quite a few tarts this month and this one feels like the perfect marriage of my British / French culture! The combination of classic French Crème Brûlée with the subtlety of Earl Grey Tea (we Brits do love a cuppa!) in the form of a tart. Ooh lala. Right on gov’na! Sounds pretty delicious right!
The importance of quality produce
For me it's so important to use quality produce. Especially when there aren’t a huge amount of complicated ingredients and methods to hide behind. This is a simply tart allowing the flavours to shine through and so the ingredients have to be the best.
The custard filling is the main component of this tart and being made of only eggs, cream and sugar, I turn to Waitrose eggs for the best flavour and quality. All their eggs are free range, I loved the white colour of their Essential Range! And their Blacktail hens are left to roam naturally in their environment, sheltering under trees and bathing in dust which is totally natural for a chicken! Happy hens lead to beautiful eggs that taste amazing. A win for the baker like you and I.
Earl Grey Crème Brûlée Tart
As much as this tart looks beautiful, which might make you think that it's complicated, it’s really not at all.
- Make the sweet shortcrust pastry. I refer to my Sweet Shortcrust Pastry Guide for the tart shell. We add 6 grams of ground earl grey tea leaves into the flour at the start of making the dough. Continue to make the tart as per my instructions in my guide ensuring that you egg wash the tart base after blind baking. This creates a seal on the pastry ensuring that the liquid custard won’t soften for crisp pastry and turn it soggy.
- Making the custard. The trick to custard is tempering the eggs. What do i mean by that? Ok so you're basically adding warmed cream to your whisked egg yolks and sugar. If you add your warmed liquid to your eggs all at once then you’ll cook the eggs and have a big scrambled mess on your hands. Not what we want. So the trick is adding the cream in a slow drizzle whilst whisking the eggs continuously. This allows the eggs to warm gradually and come to the temperature of the cream without cooking.
- The Crème Brûlée. To translate this means burnt cream. By torching the sugar you're melting and caramelising it, turning it that gorgeous golden brown colour. It’s up to you how far you take the caramelisation, either lightly golden or do it for longer and get that burnt, really darkened sugar. I like a slightly thicker layer so once you’ve torched the first layer, re-sprinkle all over with sugar and torch again.
Pinch points of Earl Grey Crème Brûlée Tart
The Pastry: Please refer to my Pastry Guide for all my hints and tips on making your own shortcrust pastry. Key takeaways are to keep all your ingredients chilled and to not over work the dough.
The Custard Filling: Whisk the yolks until pale and heat the cream gently on low until just simmering. Allow the tea bags to steep and when adding the cream to the yolks, whisk continuously and add the cream in a slow stream.
The Brûlée topping: Ensure the sugar covers the tart entirely otherwise you’ll blow torch the custard filling and soften that part. The custard can curdle which isn’t desirable. If you don't have a blow torch then a couple of minutes under the grill will do the trick.
Get Ahead with your tart
To save time on the day, I like to make my pastry tart shell the day before. Wrap it well in cling film and it can sit at room temp until you're ready to fill the tart shell.
If you were feeling super organised, the day before serving you could even make the custard too and then fill and bake the tart. Let it cool completely before wrapping in cling film and refrigerate until the next day. Take it straight out of the fridge, sprinkle with sugar and caramelise with the blow torch - it’ll be ready in minutes. This is a great dessert if you're having friends over for lunch or dinner. Less stress on the day is always a bonus right?!
For more delicious tarts, please check out these following recipes:
Earl Grey Crème Brûlée Tart
- 6 g ground earl grey tea leaves, see notes below
- 1 sweet shortcrust pastry tart shell
- 1 egg plus 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash
Creme Brulee custard
- 6 Waitrose egg yolks
- 70 g caster sugar (superfine)
- 480 ml double cream (heavy cream)
- 2 earl grey tea bags
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 40-60 g caster sugar (superfine) for the top
Sweet Shortcrust Pastry
- Make one batch of my Sweet Shortcrust Pastry. When making the shortcrust pastry dough, add 6 grams of ground earl grey tea leaves into the flour and continue to make the dough as instructed. Once rolled out and in your 23cm (9-inch) tart tin and chilled, add a layer of parchment paper and baking beans into the tart shell and bake at 180°C (350°F) for 15 minutes. Remove baking beans and parchment paper from the tart and continue to bake for 7 minutes. Brush base with egg wash and bake for another 5 minutes. This creates a barrier to stop the pastry from going soggy with the custard. Allow pastry to cool completely.
Creme Brulee custard
- In a saucepan on low heat, place the cream and 2 earl grey tea bags and heat gently until steaming with small bubbles around the edge. Remove from the heat and allow the tea bags to steep for 20 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Remove the tea bags from the cream and whilst whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in the warmed cream. Add vanilla bean paste and stir till combined.
- Place the tart shell onto the oven shelf and pour the custard into the tart whilst on the shelf. The custard has to reach almost to the top of the pastry rim and having it placed on the shelf means that you can avoid spillage.
- Bake at 150°C (300F) for 40 minutes or until the custard has set but has a slight wobble in the middle.
- Gently remove the tart from the oven and allow it to cool completely, and then refrigerate to set.
- To create the brûlée topping, sprinkle the caster sugar evenly over the set custard. Using a blow torch, caramelise the sugar until golden brown in colour. If you prefer a thicker crunch, then sprinkle another layer of sugar over the tart and blow torch again until caramelised and golden. Allow to cool and harden for five minutes. Crack hardened sugar and serve!
All recipes are developed and tested in Metric grams. I strongly recommend that you bake using digital scales for a more accurate result. I have provided a conversion to US customary in the recipe but please note that I haven’t tested using this method.