Valentine’s Day is officially one week away—(hint, hint, honey!). Honestly, it’s not a holiday I feel particularly passionate about (ironic, huh?) but I do love the excuse to indulge in eating things chocolate. And boy oh boy, these little creme brulées are all about it. Deep, dark and sinfully rich! If there’s a chocoholic you want to show a little love to (and in my book, there’s nothing wrong if it’s just you) you absolutely can’t go wrong with these Dark Chocolate Creme Brulées!
Traditionally, creme brulée is vanilla based and it’s wonderful—one of my favs, but I wanted to amp things up for Valentine’s Day and chocolate is my fail safe. Especially when it’s dark chocolate. Plus, there’s the health benefits of the anti oxidants. Ha ha!
Until the last couple of years, I always thought that it was a “restaurant only” kind of dessert. Now I’m kicking myself, because this fancy-schmancy concoction is actually easy to make. Go figure! Maybe that’s why restaurants seem to have co-opted it!
Yeah, there are a few steps but none of them are difficult and because it requires you to prepare everything a day in advance, there’s no last minute worry about what to make for dessert.
And while it’s nice to have one of those kitchen torches, these work terrifically under the broiler as well. No creme brulée intimidation here!
Silky, rich, chocolate-y custard covered with a burnt sugar crackly crust—every bite is heavenly! If the picture below is what you’re left with after you serve these, you’ll know it was indeed a happy valentine’s day!
Dark Chocolate Creme Brûlée
Makes 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes: Bake Time: 50 minutes; Chill Time: 3-4 hours—Be forewarned—you really need to start these a day ahead
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half and half
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 large egg yolks
2 ½ tablespoons sugar, plus more for topping the custards
1. Preheat oven to 300º F. Place the cream and half and half in a medium heavyweight saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to low and add in chocolate, whisking until smooth. Remove from heat.
2. In a separate large heatproof bowl, whisk the yolks with the 2 ½ tablespoons sugar to blend well. Slowly whisk in the chocolate mixture. Set a sieve over a large measuring cup and strain the mixture to remove any pieces of egg that might have gotten scrambled a bit.
3. Pour the custard evenly among 4 small ramekins and place them in a large baking pan. Add enough hot water in the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the custards are set. Remove them from the water. Let cool to room temperature then cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
4. When custards are cold, preheat broiler. Sprinkle each ramekin with about 1 tablespoon of sugar—you want a nice thick layer or else the heat will totally melt the custard and not create that crackly top. Place the ramekins on a rack close to the heat and let cook for a minute or two, watching carefully, until the sugar turns golden, with some dark brown spots too. Or if you have one, feel free to use a kitchen torch and skip the oven broiling part. In any case, once the sugar is broiled, you’ve got to let it harden for a few minutes. Then you are free to eat these right away—the custard won’t be cold but it will still taste delish or for a more true creme brulee experience, you can cover the ramekins and let them chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
Note: Recipe adapted from old issue of Bon Appetit Magazine. I cut the recipe in half.