Brandy Alexander Crème Brûlée – Niki Segnit

In case you find crème brûlée insufficiently decadent. Brandy Alexander, the sweet, viscous cocktail of Cognac, crème de cacao and cream, was the chief agent of loss in John Lennon and Harry Nilsson’s notorious eighteen-month ‘lost weekend’ of 1973–75. (How on earth did Lennon stay so thin? I’d look like Mama Cass after a week on the stuff.) Crème de cacao, incidentally, tastes a bit like Tia Maria with the coffee taken out.

For 4 individual crèmes made in shallow crème brûlée dishes or 150–175ml ramekins


  • 500ml double cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp (60g) sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp Cognac
  • 1 tbsp crème de cacao
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • Caster sugar for the brûlée top

Pour the cream into a saucepan and heat until it’s just beginning to bubble.

In a heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and pinch of salt together. Don’t leave the eggs and sugar together unwhisked for too long, or solid specks of yolk will begin to form.

Gradually stir the warm cream into the egg mixture, then add the Cognac, crème de cacao and nutmeg.

Sit your crème brûlée dishes or ramekins in a large roasting tin or similar. Strain the custard mixture through a sieve into a jug, then divide between the dishes. Pour enough hot water into the roasting tin to come halfway up the sides of the dishes.

Bake at 140˚C, checking for set after 20 minutes for shallow crème brûlée dishes, 30 minutes for ramekins. The crèmes are done when they are almost set, with a slight wobble in the centre. Remove immediately from their water bath and leave to cool, preferably on a rack.

Once cool, chill the crèmes. They can be kept, covered, in the fridge for a few days.

Sprinkle each crème with a thin layer of caster sugar and apply a blow torch. Or put them under a hot grill, close to the heat, and keep watch. Re-chill until ready to serve.

Download printable version here

Lateral Cooking by Niki Segnit is published by Bloomsbury ($45.00) Out now!

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