Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie

updated Nov 17, 2020
Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie

This beautifully spiced crème brûlée pie is flavored with cardamom and vanilla and topped with a torched sugar crust.

Makes1 (9-inch) pie

Jump to Recipe
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Brittany Conerly

Thanksgiving Food Fest is a virtual food festival full of turkey, pie, games, and fun, starring many of our favorite cooks, ready to share the secrets of a most delicious Thanksgiving. Watch the event live at @thekitchn on Instagram from November 14-15 (or check back here after if you miss it).

I love fire, and I love any excuse to break out my kitchen torch. Enter: this beautifully spiced crème brûlée pie, flavored with cardamom and vanilla and topped with a sugar crust you can torch to caramelized perfection. When you slice into it, the shards of caramel combine with the creamy custard and the crisp crust, and it’s heavenly.

Credit: Brittany Conerly

Yes, Roll the Dough in Sugar

When you make classic French palmiers, you roll puff pastry dough in granulated sugar before shaping and baking it, resulting in pastries with a caramelized outer crust. The same technique works with pie dough (and rough puff pastry). Roll the dough in sugar before using it to line the pie plate, and it will caramelize on the outside during baking. This dough is best used the same day it’s made. The high oven temperature ensures the sugar melts, then caramelizes firm on the dough — don’t fret about it sticking to the pie plate, but take care not to overbake, as this crust is more prone to burning!

Cardamom Crème Brûlée Pie

This beautifully spiced crème brûlée pie is flavored with cardamom and vanilla and topped with a torched sugar crust.

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie

Nutritional Info


For the caramelized pie crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups

    all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    fine sea salt

  • 4 ounces

    (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

  • 1/4 cup

    ice water, plus more as needed

  • 1/4 cup

    granulated sugar, plus more as needed

For the filling:

  • 1 2/3 cups

    heavy cream

  • 8

    whole cardamom pods, gently cracked

  • 1/2

    vanilla bean, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped out, seeds and pod reserved

  • 2/3 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 6

    large egg yolks

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    fine sea salt

  • Superfine sugar for finishing


For the caramelized pie crust:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the cubed butter, tossing the cubes through the flour until each individual piece is well coated. ‘Cut’ the butter into the flour by pressing the pieces between your fingers, flattening the cubes into big shards. As you work, continue to toss the butter through the flour, recoating the shingled pieces.

  2. For a flaky crust, continue cutting the butter into the flour just until the pieces of butter are about the size of walnut halves.

  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the amount of ice water listed in the recipe to the well, but have more on hand. Use a tossing motion with your hands to start to mix the two together (this begins to combine them without creating too much gluten). As it begins to become hydrated, you can start to use more of a kneading motion – but don’t overdo it: this will make the dough tough.

  4. Add more water about 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough is properly hydrated: it should be uniformly combined and hold together easily, but it won’t look totally smooth. Dough that is too dry may have sort of a “dusty” appearance, or pockets of un-hydrated flour. It will not hold together and will appear crumbly. Dough that is too wet will feel sticky or tacky to the touch, and is often smoother and/or lighter in color.

  5. Form the dough into an even disk. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

  6. Roll out the chilled dough on a lightly floured surface to a round about 1/2-inch thick. Brush/scrape away any excess flour from the dough and work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough and the work surface with the sugar and roll the dough out about 1/4-inch thick. Line a 9-inch pie plate (not deep dish) with the dough. Use scissors to trim away the excess dough, leaving about 1/2-inch excess all the way around the outside edge of the pie plate. Tuck this excess dough under itself, pressing gently to make it flush with the edge of the pie plate. Crimp the edges as desired. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.

  7. This dough is best baked at 400°F. To parbake, dock the dough with a fork. Cut a square of parchment paper slightly larger than the diameter of a pie plate, and press it into the base of the pie plate. Fill with pie weights to the top inner rim of the pie plate. Bake for 16 to 19 minutes, until the crust is beginning to turn pale golden around the edges. Remove the weights and bake for 4 to 6 minutes more, until the crust is lightly golden. Let cool completely.

For the filling:

  1. In a small pot, bring the cream, cardamom, vanilla pod, and vanilla bean seeds to a simmer over medium heat. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let the cream steep for 15 to 20 minutes.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center (preferably with a Baking Steel or stone on it).

  3. Strain the steeped cream into a medium bowl; discard the cardamom pods and vanilla bean. Add the granulated sugar, egg yolks, and salt and whisk well to combine.

  4. Place the parbaked crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet and pour in the custard. Transfer the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the custard appears set around the edges (it may still be a bit jiggly in the center—that’s OK), 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 36 hours.

  5. When ready to serve, sprinkle an even layer of superfine sugar over the surface of the pie. Brûlée the sugar with a kitchen torch until evenly melted and caramelized. Let the pie sit for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

Recipe Notes

While pie dough usually benefits from being refrigerated after it’s used to line the pie plate and crimped, if the caramelized crust is held in the fridge for too long, the sugar will start to get sticky. It’s best to limit refrigeration before baking to 40 minutes maximum.

Make ahead: The tightly wrapped disk of dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Wrapped in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil, the dough can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge before using. The pie can be baked and refrigerated up to 36 hours before brûléeing and serving.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days.

Excerpted from THE BOOK ON PIE © 2020 by Erin Jeanne McDowell. Photography © 2020 by Mark Weinberg. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

This recipe is part of Kitchn’s Food Fest, a two-day joyful, virtual feast.