The Real Story Behind The World's Largest Crème Brûlée

The "crack!" of breaking through the hardened sugar layer on a crème brûlée is one of the most satisfying sounds, and a surefire way to know you are about to dig in to a great dessert.

The origins of crème brûlée are a little foggy. Although the name sounds French (the name translates to "burnt cream"), PJP Online says that England, France, and Spain have all laid claim to its invention. They say English recipes as far back as the 15th century resemble the dessert, while it made its appearance in French cookbooks around 1691. They also note that Spain's version, called "crema catalana," may have been around as early as the 5th century.

Traditionally, crème brûlée is made from a rich custard, topped with hard, caramelized sugar. This sugar layer is typically achieved using a small torch, but you can also use your oven's broiler setting for a more at-home friendly solution, says the New York Times Cooking.

It won a Guinness World Record

The world's largest crème brûlée was made in February 2005 by 36 Le Cordon Bleu Program students at the Orlando Culinary Academy in Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The students used a hefty ingredients list to pull it off: 115 gallons of heavy cream, 200 pounds of sugar, a gallon of vanilla, 4,000 egg yolks, 20 gallons of milk, and 49 pounds of cornstarch (via Food Processing). The three-month-long planning required donations from the community, and six hours of cooking once the plan was in action.

The giant ramekin was settled in the parking lot of the school, and cooked using a temporary ramekin and kettles on stoves, says the Orlando Sentinel. The completed dessert weighed 1,599.96 pounds, and was certified by Guinness World Records. Around 300 people came to watch the event, and samples of the completed dessert were sold for $5; the money went to a scholarship fund for the Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, reports Food Processing.

Craving crème brûlée? Check out this (smaller, not world record-holding) recipe!