The name Crème Brûlée means "burnt creme" in French. It consists of a rich custard base topped with a layer of caramelized sugar.
The classic vanilla crème brûlée, topped with fresh berries, is delicious. However, my favorite is chocolate crème brûlée. I simply take 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips and chop them up and add them to the cream to create this decadent dessert.
The recipe is very simple, but the most important step is when adding the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture. You have to add the hot cream very slowly to the egg mixture (called tempering), or else you will end up with chunks of scrambled egg. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com, and you'll read in the reviews that several people ran the end product through a sieve to remove any lumps from the mixture... that step is completely unnecessary as long as you successfully temper the eggs.
This is a great recipe to use when entertaining. It's something most people only enjoy when dining out, and is so simple to make. The chocolate version isn't as pretty as the vanilla (you can't really see the caramelized sugar layer), but I promise that the rich chocolate custard is to die for! :)
Chocolate Crème Brûlée
modified from allrecipes.com
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips, finely chopped (simply omit the chocolate if you want to make the classic vanilla crème brûlée)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks (based on posted reviews, I always use 4 yolks and find the texture of the custard better this way)
4 tbsp white sugar
1/4 cup fresh raspberries, for garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F and line the bottom of a large baking pan with a damp kitchen cloth. (I usually omit the cloth.)
Bring a large pot of water to boil. While water is boiling, combine cream, 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and chocolate in saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally for 4 to 5 minutes, until steam starts to rise and chocolate is completely melted.
In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks and vanilla until smooth. Pour hot cream into yolks, a little at a time, stirring constantly, until all the cream is incorporated. Pour mixture into four 6 oz. ramekins.
Place ramekins on towel in baking pan, and place dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into the pan to halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover entire pan loosely with foil.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, until custard is just set. (I find that it always takes 50-60 minutes, depending on the oven, before it is set.) Chill ramekins in refrigerator 4 to 6 hours.
Before serving, sprinkle 1 tbsp sugar over each custard. Use a kitchen torch or oven broiler to brown the tops, 2-3 minutes. Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.
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