For special occasions, what dessert beats creme brulee? With its creamy, rich vanilla base and caramelized crackly sugar topping, crème brûlée is luxurious and decadent, but is it dairy-free?
It is always frustrating to have to deal with lactose intolerance, as you will have to pass up pies, desserts, and pastries day after day. In this article, we are going to investigate the dairy status of crème brûlée while also providing you with a useful tip on how to increase your lactose tolerance levels so you never have to pass up desserts like panna cotta or crème brûlée again.
What Is Creme Brulee?
Creme Brulee traces back to 17th-century France, with the earliest known recipe found in François Massialot’s 1691 cookbook, Cuisinier Royal et Bourgeois. This luscious dessert, once a humble concoction of egg yolks, milk, and a pinch of flour, evolved into the decadent treat we cherish today. The culinary world debated its origin, with hints of inspiration from earlier recipes and the English adaptation known as ‘English cream’ or crême à l’Angloise in the 18th century.
Fast forward to the 1980s, and Creme Brulee emerged as a symbol of self-indulgence, capturing the hearts of dessert enthusiasts worldwide. It was popularized by Sirio Maccioni at Le Cirque in New York, it became the star of the restaurant boom.
Crème brûlée is made with a few ingredients in a simple process and is often served chilled with numerous toppings, including chocolate shavings or berries. Creme brûlée has a slightly tangy and sweet flavor and smells like burnt sugar, all thanks to the caramelized crackly sugar using a propane torch.
What Is the Main Ingredient in Creme Brulee?
When it comes to decadent desserts, few can rival the exquisite allure of crème brûlée. Here are the main ingredients and the unique role each plays in this culinary masterpiece:
- Egg yolks: Egg yolks bring a luscious richness to the custard. Their natural fats contribute to the velvety texture that defines crème brûlée. Egg yolk acts as the custard’s binder, creating a harmonious liaison with the other ingredients. This emulsification process ensures a smooth and cohesive custard base.
- Cream: Cream serves as the primary liquid in the custard base of crème brulee. The high fat content in the cream contributes to the luxurious and silky texture of the dessert. Heavy cream, or a mixture of heavy cream and milk, is commonly used.
- Sugar: Sugar not only adds sweetness but also plays a crucial role in the caramelization process. The delicate balance of sweetness heightens the flavor profile without overwhelming the palate. During caramelization, sugar transforms into a crunchy caramelized crust under the heat, offering a delightful contrast to the smooth custard beneath.
- Vanilla: Vanilla, the fragrant maestro, imparts its unique aroma, turning our custard into a sensory symphony. Its subtle yet distinct presence adds a touch of elegance, making each bite a memorable experience.
While crème brûlée might not be the first dessert that comes to mind when contemplating nutritional benefits due to its high fat and calorie content, there are still some positives to this dessert.
Crème brûlée boasts a rich composition of essential nutrients, primarily derived from its key ingredients. The egg yolks, a fundamental component of the custard, bring an array of nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. These include vitamin B12, vitamin D, and choline, contributing to its nutrient profile.
Also, the satisfaction derived from savoring a small portion can contribute to overall well-being by fulfilling sweet cravings without excessive indulgence. Indulging in delightful culinary experiences is known to have positive effects on mental health, fostering feelings of joy and satisfaction.
Taking a mindful approach to enjoying such treats can contribute to your overall happiness.
Does Crème Brûléee Have Dairy?
Crème brûlée has dairy. Crème brûlée is made with heavy cream, and a cup of heavy cream contains 7.84 grams of lactose, which can be too much for people with high lactose sensitivity, as even 3 grams could trigger symptoms. The majority of people can, however, consume up to 12 grams of lactose with no problems at all.
Depending on your level of lactose intolerance, you could handle a serving of crème brûlée. A serving of crème brûlée may not necessarily contain a cup of heavy milk, which means the lactose grams would be lower and non-threatening if you have medium to low lactose sensitivity.
I could handle a serving of crème brûlée without showing any symptoms, but the same can’t be said for my sibling, as he can barely handle a few spoons before looking for the nearest toilet. Reaction is based on individual sensitivity. However, the following tips could help you if you have low lactose intolerance:
How to reduce lactose in dairy
If your body doesn’t tolerate lactose, some techniques could reduce the lactose content of dairy:
Eat dairy with meals
You should eat foods high in fat, protein, and fiber alongside your dairy products to slow the emptying of your stomach.
When you do this, fewer lactose molecules will get access to your intestine at a time, making it unable to trigger symptoms. This is why we tolerate full-fat dairy better when compared to low-fat dairy.
Slowly increase the amount of lactose in your diets
It has been proven by studies that if, for two weeks, you gradually increase the amount of lactose you ingest, your tolerance to lactose will improve significantly.
This is possible because the bacteria that reside in your guts have the capability of adapting to higher lactose levels and aiding in breaking them down.
Taking lactase drops or tablets
The majority of people who are lactose intolerant lack the enzyme (lactase) needed to break them down. Adding lactase drops to your crème brûlée dessert can aid your body in processing lactose. Alternatively, you could take the lactase tablets before you begin eating your desserts, like banana pudding.
Can I Find Dairy-Free Creme Brulee At Restaurants?
Many restaurants today are attuned to the diverse dietary needs of their patrons, and the demand for dairy-free options has not gone unnoticed. While traditional crème brûlée is a dairy-rich delight, some establishments now offer creative twists to cater to those seeking a dairy-free experience.
Dairy-free Crème brûlée often embraces the lusciousness of plant-based alternatives to milk and cream. Coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk bring their unique textures and flavors to the custard base.
These plant-powered alternatives not only offer a creamy consistency but also contribute their distinct notes, creating a delightful symphony for those with lactose sensitivities or those choosing a dairy-free lifestyle.
As the demand for dairy-free options continues to rise, more restaurants are adding innovative desserts to their menus. While not every restaurant may offer dairy-free crème brûlée, it’s worth exploring culinary hotspots known for their inclusive menus. Trendy cafes, vegan eateries, and health-conscious restaurants are excellent places to embark on your dairy-free Creme Brulee adventure.
Don’t hesitate to inquire with the staff about dairy-free dessert options, as many establishments are happy to accommodate dietary preferences. I do research before stepping out of the house, so I could just head to the restaurant, possibly after speaking with them on the phone.
Non-dairy Substitute For Crème brûlée
Here are creamy, non dairy crème brûlée substitutes that not only maintain the luscious texture of this classic dessert but also bring unique flavors to the forefront:
Coconut cream is the closest luxurious dairy substitute, offering a velvety texture and a creamy consistency of dairy that rivals traditional creme brulee. It is extracted from mature coconut flesh, and it brings a tropical twist to this dessert. Coconut cream also pairs well with various flavor infusions, allowing for creative adaptations to suit your taste.
Silken tofu is rich in protein, and its jelly-like texture makes it a nutritious dairy substitute for crème brule. Its neutral taste provides a versatile base for various flavor enhancements.
If you’re a fan of nutty undertones, almond milk is your best bet. Derived from finely ground almonds, it offers a delicate and nutty, dairy-free alternative. Almond is a healthier alternative if you’re watching your weight, as it is naturally lower in calories.
Is Creme Brulee Dairy Free? Final Thoughts
Crème brûlée is not dairy-free. To consume some dairy-free creme brulee, you will either have to make them yourself by substituting the heavy cream for coconut cream, almond milk, or silken tofu, or you can also try restaurants that offer dairy-free menus.