I remember the first time I ever had crème brûlée. I was in London with a group from my university, and we had spent the past week exploring literary sites around the United Kingdom, including Bronte country in the Yorkshire moors, Sir Walter Scott’s home near the border between England and Scotland, Jane Austen’s Bath, and more. On the last night of our trip, we ate at a nice restaurant in London and then saw a live production of Les Miserables at the Palace Theatre. I don’t remember what the main course was, but our dessert was plenty memorable: rich, creamy, indulgent crème brûlée.
Literally meaning burnt cream or burned cream, crème brûlée originated in France in the 1600s and consists of a custard base topped with a thin layer of hardened caramelized sugar. It’s typically served in individual ramekins, and the top layer of sugar is often caramelized using a special kitchen torch.
Crème brûlée is one of those dishes that I’ve never seriously considered making at home because I don’t own a torch (although you certainly can make it at home), but then I saw Aldi selling it this spring, and it didn’t even require a torch. I was curious to see if it would taste like I remember it from years ago, so I bought some for my family.
Specially Selected Crème Brûlée cost $4.99 at the time of publication for an 8.4-ounce package that contains two servings, at about $2.50 per serving. You can find similar crème brûlée in the freezer section at other retailers, but the Aldi version is one of the cheaper ones. For instance, Target sells some for about 70 cents per ounce, while the Aldi version costs about 59 cents per ounce.
The Aldi crème brûlée is a product of France, and the box describes this as “rich and creamy vanilla custard with brown sugar topping ready for caramelizing in its own ceramic dish.”
That’s right, this crème brûlée is sold in its own little ramekins that you can keep and reuse, either to make more crème brûlée from scratch if you’re feeling adventurous, or to use for dips, pet food dishes, or whatever else you might think up.
This is an Aldi Find, which means it’s only in stores for a short time. Aldi does not offer online ordering for its specials, so once this sells out at your local store, it’s gone and you’ll have to wait for Aldi to decide to bring it back.
Ingredients are: cream, water, sugar solution, egg yolk, brown sugar, sugar, skimmed milk powder, lactose and milk proteins blend, xanthan gum (thickener), carrageenan (gelling agent), natural vanilla flavor, and spent vanilla seed.
If you’re watching out for allergens, this contains milk and eggs. It may contain wheat, soy, coconut, chestnut, hazelnut, almond, lichee nut, macadamia nut, pecan, pistachio, shea nut, or walnut.
This is certainly not low in calories, fat, cholesterol, or sugar. But hey, it’s dessert!
One serving (120 grams) has 310 calories, 19 grams of total fat (24% DV), 11 grams of saturated fat (55% DV), 270 mg of cholesterol (90% DV), 85 mg of sodium (4% DV), 28 grams of total carbohydrates (10% DV), 27 grams of total sugars, 22 grams of added sugars (44% DV), and 5 grams of protein.
To prepare this dish, you can either heat it in a conventional oven using the broiler feature, or you can use the traditional French method and torch the top until it’s brown and crisp.
To broil in an oven, preheat on “broil,” and once the oven is hot, pull the crème brûlée out of the freezer. Remove the transparent packaging and spread the brown sugar (in small envelopes) on top of the crème brûlée. Place in the oven for about 2 minutes or until the top is caramelized. Cool at room temperature for about 10 minutes and enjoy.
To prepare with a torch, thaw the crème brûlée in the refrigerator. Remove the transparent packaging and add the brown sugar on top. Torch the top until it becomes crunchy with gold brown color. Cool at room temperature 5 minutes and enjoy.
Because I don’t own a torch, I opted to broil our crème brûlée. I’m not sure if my broiler in my oven is finnicky or if the directions on the crème brûlée package were off, but it took about 16 minutes in the broiler section in my oven to get our crème brûlée caramelized on top. I also rotated the baking sheet a few times to help evenly caramelize all the dishes.
When I did finally take it out of the oven, it looked promising, with tops that were golden brown and crisp. I let them cool for 10 minutes, and then we dug in.
It’s been a long time since I first had crème brûlée in a restaurant, but this crème brûlée from Aldi tastes a lot like what I remember. It’s sweet, creamy, and smooth, with a crunchy sugary topping. My family members who had not tried crème brûlée before all liked this.
While these are so high in fat, sugar, and cholesterol that I don’t want to indulge in them often, if these are still in stock during my next Aldi run, I might be tempted to buy a few more to keep in the freezer and save for special occasions.
Then I’ll just need to figure out what to do with even more of those little dishes.
Specially Selected Crème Brûlée is a product of France. This custard is sweet, creamy, rich, and delicious. You can prepare it using the broiler in a conventional oven, or do it the traditional way with a torch. It took longer than the instructions indicate for us to caramelize the topping using our broiler, but it still came out great. Highly recommended.