Cherry Risotto Crème Brûlée

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Old-fashioned rice pudding is elevated to three-star status in this creamy brûlée. Use Arborio or another short-grain Italian rice for the best texture. If fresh cherries are in season, let them stand in for the dried ones.

NotesCaramelizing the Sugar:

Different sugars produce slightly different results when caramelized. Brown sugar tends to melt the quickest, in less than a minute. Superfine and regular granulated sugar melt to form a thin, solid disk. Confectioners’ sugar should be sifted or pressed through a sieve to make an even layer so it will brown evenly. Raw sugars are slower to melt than finer sugars, but produce a nice, even browning.

Oven-Dried Brown Sugar: Due to the moisture content of brown sugar, it is recommended to dry it before caramelizing. Spread light or dark brown sugar out on a baking sheet in a 1/8-inchlayer and bake in a preheated 275°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned a shade darker. Let cool, place in a small resealable plastic bag, and crush it thoroughly with a rolling pin or flat metal mallet to make fine crystals. Brown sugar treated in this manner has an excellent flavor when caramelized.

The amount of sugar you use to caramelize the top can vary with personal taste and the diameter of the dish. If you use flan dishes, which have a wider diameter, 1 tablespoon of sugar is a good amount for each dish. With a 6-ounce or smaller ramekin, which has a 4-inch or less diameter, about 2 teaspoons of sugar will cover the surface nicely.

When caramelizing the sugar topping of dessert cremes brulees under a broiler, you may prefer to place the containers in a pan and fill the pan with cold water and ice to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. This keeps the containers from overheating, and you can serve the desserts immediately (rather than refrigerating them briefly to cool).




Total Timeunder 4 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursedessert

Dietary Considerationgluten-free, halal, kosher, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegetarian

Taste and Texturecreamy, tart

Type of Dishdessert


  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or 1½ cups fresh Bing cherries, pitted
  • 4 tablespoons kirsch
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2/3 cup Arborio rice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/3 cup sugar, plus 6 tablespoons for topping
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1½ cups heavy (whipping) cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Put the cherries in a small bowl and add 2 tablespoons of the kirsch. Let stand for 15 minutes.

  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, rice, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, or until the rice is al dente and about ½ cup milk remains. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1/3 cup sugar. Let cool to room temperature.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the cream and the remaining 2 tablespoons kirsch or, alternatively, the vanilla extract. Stir in the rice mixture.

  4. Place six standard-size flan dishes in a baking pan. Reserve a dozen cherries for garnish and divide the remainder among the dishes. Divide the custard mixture and any juices from the cherries among the dishes (discarding the cinnamon stick). Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool briefly, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

  5. When ready to serve, place the dishes on a baking sheet and evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over each custard. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar (see Notes). Garnish the top of each dish with a cherry or two.


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