Butter-Pecan Creme Brulee

by Eugene on January 22, 2009 · 12 comments


I’m not the biggest fan of Splenda. It spices up the low-carb lifestyle, sure, and the latest Atkins books all say that it’s fine in moderation, but I find that things just work better when I stay away from the sweetness. So when I found this recipe for a low carb, Atkins-friendly creme brulee that barely uses any Splenda at all, it went straight into my bookmarks.

The creme itself isn’t bad, as the custard base lent itself entirely to low carb translation. The topping, however, is something rather original. It’s a crunch, and it tastes great, but no one will be mistaking it for the real deal. I may have been spoiled by too many late-night movies with coffee and rock-solid brulee, but the pecans left me wanting for something to crack with my spoon. Be that as it may, since artificial sweeteners don’t caramelize, the butter-pecan topping is about as close as we’re getting to the real deal without using actual sugar (which, needless to say, would defeat the point).

Despite that exercise in fence sitting, I recommend this recipe wholeheartedly. It seems especially suited to dinner parties or special occasions, as you can make it a day or so ahead of time with absolutely no extra work required, and it’s oven to table in one dish, so cleanup is a breeze. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

low carb souffle

Custard Ingredients

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons granular Splenda
  • dash of salt

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/8 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon granular Splenda

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Warm cream in a saucepan over medium heat, until bubbles just begin to form. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla, salt, and Splenda. Gradually whisk in cream, then strain mixture.

Tip: If you want to make the sweetness more complex, switch out part of the Splenda for stevia extract. While I’m not that partial to either, Splenda tends to taste smoother, and stevia offers more body.


low carb souffle

Divide into ramekins, then bake in a water bath for 25-30 minutes, until set but still jiggly. Chill for one hour.

Mix all topping ingredients into a small pan, then heat on medium until nuts begin to brown. Mind the Splenda, as it can burn. Divide divide between ramekins, spreading mixture gently and evenly. Chill at least four more hours before serving.

low carb souffle

Makes 4 servings. 517 calories and 4.1 net carbs per serving.

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Amanda February 2, 2009 at 7:56 am

This looks really good. Do you think you actually need to strain it, though?

2 Eugene February 2, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Amanda, I’m not entirely sure. I think I might have gotten by without straining, but if the cream is hotter when you start mixing everything, you might end up with little pieces of cooked egg that the straining would remove. Maybe you could play it by ear?

3 Jil March 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm

I just made this Sunday night. It’s pretty good and the topping is wonderful! I like your pictures better. :) I’m adding you to my low carb blog section. Hope that’s alright.

4 Greg July 21, 2009 at 2:28 pm

My wife makes a similar low carb creme brulee but we just go ahead and use baker’s sugar for the topping. I add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon and knock off the excess, then have at it with a propane torch. It adds maybe 1.5 carbs to the total.

I’ll have to try your pecan crunch topping next time it sounds great.


5 LC 4 Life July 26, 2009 at 5:29 am

Thank you for these wonderful recipes! It makes it so much easier to stick to LCing when you have variety.

6 Diet-to-Go August 29, 2009 at 1:26 am

Oh, this looks like a winner. I’m actually a Splenda fan, but I’ve never tried mixing in any stevia extract for sweetening. I definitely think I will take that suggestion in making this. I always seem to have issues with burning Splenda when doing something similar, like the pecan and butter topping. I guess I’ll try extremely low heat this time.

7 speedwell April 22, 2011 at 9:05 am

I despise Splenda. Stevia’s sweetness never overpowers its bitterness in any formulation I’ve tried. I find xylitol browns nicely and gets sticky when I caramelize it in a pan with a little butter; maybe you could try it? Since custard needs just a touch of sweetness, I would use the same amount of erythritol and no salt (the salt is really only there to moderate the sweetness anyway).

8 Eugene July 1, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Speedwell, I do plan on more xylitol experiments. I only started using it recently, but it does seem the most promising of the mostly disappointing sweeteners I’ve seen. We made a tres leches cake with it and no one felt ill afterward, which doesn’t sound all that meritous, but if you’ve tried doing the same with Splenda… well, you know what happens. There has to be a 1:1 ratio of diners to bathrooms.

Sometime this year I plan to do long, well-researched posts on the pros and cons of all the various sweetener choices… splenda, stevia, xylitol, avage nectar, etc., but that will be a bit in the future!

9 sara m. September 10, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Truvia and Ideal both caramelize! Try them next time & maybe you’ll be fooled into thinking it’s a late-night movie worthy brulee after all ;o)

10 Kenya Carter November 22, 2011 at 10:59 pm

I just made this and it is divine. I did not strain it but gave the creme at last 5 minutes to cool down. I used a real vanilla bean (had to have those black specks!) I used Truvia and strangely enough it was browned when I took it out the oven -40 min in a 325 oven with the water bath.

I messed up and put 8 packs of Truvia. I am new to using Truvia and was afraid it wouldnt bake well or be sweet enough. I’ll keep experimenting but this tasted like the real thing! No crunchy topping needed!

11 Mandy February 23, 2012 at 11:07 am

Can you substitute Truvia or liquid Stevia extract for splenda?

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }