Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Chocolate Crème Brûlée  

I bet that if you like Crème Brûlée, you will like this chocolate version even more. The combination of chocolate and caramel is heavenly in this recipe from Fran Bigelow's Pure Chocolate.

5 egg yolks
1/4 c sugar, plus an additional 6 tbs for caramelizing
2 c heavy cream
1/2 vanill bean, split lengthwise
4 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70% cacao), finely chopped

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 300F. Have ready 6 7-oz shallow oval ramekins or crème brûlèe dishes.

In small bowl, combine the egg yolks with 2 tbs of the sugar. Gently whisk, without beating in air, until smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat the cream with the split vanilla bean and 2 tbs sugar until it comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat. Lift out the vanilla bean and let cool a minute. Holding the bean over the cream, gently scrape loose all the seeds so they fall into the pot. Discard the empty pod or rinse and let dry for vanilla sugar. (Place the dried pod in a sugar canister.) Stir in the chocolate until thoroughly melted and smooth. (I had to turn on the heat again on low for chocolate to completely melt.)

Pour one third of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and stir to combine. Then add the remaining chocolate mixture, gently stirring until smooth. (Gently stirring is required not to beat air into the mixture resulting in air bubbles in the finished baked custard. To see the difference between custard with and without air bubbles, click here.) Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup. Pour about 3 oz. into each ramekin, about 1/2 inch deep. Firmly tap the base of each cup on the counter to remove any bubbles.

Arrange the ramekins in a heavy-rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Put the baking dish into the oven and fill with 1/2 inch simmering water for a bain-marie.

Bake the custards for 10 minutes, or until set. The tops should be glossy. With a wide saptula, lift and transfer the custards to a rack to cool. Then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 2 to 4 hours, uncovered.

Shortly before serving, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over each chilled custard. Use a propane or butane torch to caramelize the sugar. If you don't have a torch, you can achieve the same result by putting the ramekins under the broiler, positioned about 4 imches from the flame. Turn frequently to avoid burn spots. (I personally was never successful with this method. If you love creme brulee, it is a smart thing to invest in a hand-held torch. If you know your way around in your home improvement center, I believe you can get the kind plumbers' use for a very decent price.) Serve shortly after, because lenghty refrigeration after this stage will cause the caramel to weep.

Rana says it is finger-licking good!