Kitchn Love Letters

This $4 Grocery Transports Me Back to My Favorite 5-Star Swiss Hotel

published Jan 21, 2023
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Person standing in front of refrigerator door.
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

As a self-professed sweets lover, I find it difficult to just choose one dessert when I am out for dinner. I usually make my partner choose a completely different dessert just so I can sneak a bite. At home, if I am entertaining, I also like to prepare at least two types of sweets — one chocolate and another fruit-based — to make sure I cover a range of sugary preferences.

One of my favorite desserts of the moment brings together two countries that have mastered the fine art of dessert making: France and Italy. It also merges two of my favorite after-dinner sweets in one delightful mug: crème brûlée and affogato! The creaminess of the crème brûlée mixes perfectly with the coffee-flavored affogato. The combination is a real treat.

Credit: Michelle Tchea

I distinctly remember sitting on the terrace at the Kulm Hotel, St. Moritz in Switzerland, a splurge-worthy hotel overlooking the sparkling St. Moritz Lake, and digging my spoon into this chef-made cappuccino crème brûlée. The minute I tasted it I thought to myself, “I have to recreate this, but do I really want to go through the trouble of making two desserts?” (Spoiler: I do not!) 

Instead, I got creative. I decided to skip the from-scratch crême brulée and turn to one of my favorite ready-to-eat desserts: Marie Morin Crème Brûlée.

Credit: H-E-B

What’s So Great About Marie Morin Crème Brûlée?

I discovered Marie Morin’s Crème Brûlée a couple of years ago as I was prowling the aisles of Costco. (It’s a seasonal item at the beloved warehouse, but you can also find it in several other regional grocers, including H-E-B in Texas, Save Mart and Gelson’s Markets in California, and Haggen in Washington). I gravitate to crème brûlée-anything so it was an easy purchase. 

What I love about the store-bought brûlée is that it actually tastes like something you would make at home. The ingredients are minimal, with just egg, sugar, milk, and vanilla making up the custardy treat. It is silky yet creamy, and there is a bit of entertainment value too; you sprinkle sugar on top and use your blow torch (or place under the broiler) to create that crunchy signature crust you find in restaurants. 

Credit: Michelle Tchea

What’s the Best Way to Use Marie Morin Crème Brûlée?

Rather than buying organic milk, farm-fresh crème, vanilla, and eggs (as well as making a mess in my apartment kitchen), I stash these (which have all those ingredients) in my fridge and top it up with my own super-easy coffee frappe recipe. (It’s usually just a double shot of espresso whizzed up with ice and a scoop of ice-cream, if I am feeling indulgent.) The house-made frappe in combination with the store-bought crème brûlée make for a perfect pair, and I don’t have to spend the equivalent of $18 to get it. Bellissimo!

Unlike the hotel’s version, where the affogato is served directly on top of the crème brûlée, the store-bought crème brûlée doesn’t have much room to fit my affogato (yes, I like coffee!). I keep them separate, which is actually even better because I can double the amount of affogato. I’m secretly waiting for the chef to write to me and steal my idea, but I’m OK with that. After all, I affectionately borrowed his dessert recipe, before making it my own. All it’s missing is a terrace.

Buy: Marie Morin Crème Brûlée, $4.11 for 2 crème brûlées at H-E-B

Do you have a go-to grocery store dessert shortcut? Tell us about it in the comments.