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Chef’s Table

Warner's Taste Club - Tonka bean and espresso crème brûlée recipe
Warner's Taste Club - Tonka bean and espresso crème brûlée recipe

Tonka bean and espresso crème brûlée

Create a show-stopping dessert with help from head chef Stephen Smith of The Broadway Hotel

My mom grew green beans (any variety of French beans) every summer and I was made to pick them on a regular basis. Back then I hated it as I would have much rather been playing with my friends.

Now, I have my own allotment and always grow green beans. This recipe is a great way to use up the summer gluts and can be served as a side dish or as part of a mezze.


  • 1 x tonka bean (finely grated); if unavailable tonka bean essence is also good
  • 6 x egg yolks
  • ¾ pint of double cream
  • 75g caster sugar (plus a little extra for topping)
  • 1 x shot of good quality espresso


  • Pre-heat the oven to 130°C (gas mark 3) and place the ramekins into the deep roasting tin.
  • Pour the double cream and finely grated tonka bean into a heavy based saucepan.
  • Put the 6 egg yolks and 75g caster sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture turns slightly pale.
  • Put the pan with the cream and tonka bean onto a medium heat and bring almost to the boil. As soon as you see bubbles appear around the edge, take the pan off the heat.
  • Pour the hot cream into the beaten egg yolks, stirring with a wire whisk as you do so.
  • Set a fine sieve over a large wide jug or bowl and pour the hot mixture through to strain it, leave the mixture to stand for 5 minutes allowing bubbles to form at the top.
  • Using a big spoon, scoop off all the pale foam that is sitting on the top of the liquid (this will be several spoonfuls) and discard. Give the mixture a gentle stir.
  • Pour in enough hot water (from the tap) into the roasting tin to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Pour the hot cream into the ramekins filling them nearly to the top.
  • Put them in the oven and bake for 30/35 mins until the mixture is softly set; to check, gently sway the roasting tin and if the crème brûlée are ready, they will wobble a bit, but don’t allow them to get too firm.
  • Lift the ramekins out of the roasting tin with oven gloves and set them on a wire rack to cool for a couple of minutes, then put in the fridge to cool completely. This can be done overnight without affecting the texture.
  • When ready to serve, sprinkle the remaining caster sugar over each ramekin and spread out to form an even layer. Then using a blow torch, hold the flame just above the sugar and keep moving the ramekin around and around until the sugar has fully caramelised, leave to cool to create a firm caramel top.