I recently bought a kitchen torch to finish off my sous vide dishes, but before I had the chance to use it that way, I decided to make crème brulée. I went to Tastespotting to look for recipes, and decided this one looked too good to pass up. Mixing dark chocolate and crème brulée (and of course, fire) was too tempting. After a little bit of a learning curve, I ended up with one of the best desserts I've ever made.
- 5 large egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar (plus more for the burnt sugar topping)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ½ vanilla bean, split
- 4½ ounces dark chocolate (77% cacao preferred) finely chopped
- Preheat your oven to 300°F and assemble six ceramic tarts in a roasting pan.
- With a whisk, stir together two tablespoons of sugar with the egg yolks, taking care not to incorporate too much air into the mixture.
- Meanwhile, bring the cream, two remaining tablespoons of sugar and vanilla bean just to a simmer over medium-low heat. Once it begins to foam, remove from heat and fish out the vanilla bean. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream and discard the pod. Add the chocolate to the mixture and stir until completely melted and smooth.
- Slowly pour about ½ cup of the warm chocolate cream into the bowl with the eggs while whisking. Then add the remaining cream and mix well.
- For the next step, I find that a medium sized spouted vessel is handy (like a large 4-cup glass measuring cup). Place a fine mesh sieve over the vessel and pour in the custard.
- Pour the strained mixture between the six tarts, tapping the roasting pan gently on the counter to settle the custard and remove any air bubbles. Pour hot water into your roasting pan so it comes up roughly as high as the custard and then bake for 20-35 minutes (this will depend largely on how deep your tarts/ramekins are) until set.
- Allow to chill (roughly 4 hours) and then sprinkle each with 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar and torch them until melted. Allow the sugar to set and then serve.
The original recipe said to use 1-2 Tablespoons of sugar in the last step. I used 1 Tablespoon the first time I tried and it was way too much sugar for the ramekins I was using. The topping got a little burnt and there were spots where the sugar hadn't caramelized at all. We ate three of them the day I made them and saved the other three for the next day. When I tried with less sugar the next day, the results were MUCH better. You want to use just enough to cover the top.
Don't worry too much if the surface of the custard isn't perfect. You'll be covering it with sugar anyway, so it doesn't matter what it looks like.