With all the overly Christmas-themed dessert recipes floating around on the internet, myself included, I thought it would be a great idea to share something not so holiday-ish on the blog this week, but still worthy enough to serve at the end of your seasonal feast. Crème Brûlée to me always comes off as a fancy and classy dessert for some reason. It also reminds me of the movie, My Best Friend’s Wedding, when Julia Roberts is talking to Cameron Diaz, telling her “Crème Brûlée can never be Jell-O.” She’s very right, and it can’t, but good luck trying to make it happen. I didn’t want to just give you a basic crème brûlée recipe though, because we’ve seen that a million times already, and you know me well enough by now to know that I don’t just do things basic. So I decided to switch things up by adding chocolate, espresso and cinnamon to the mix, resulting in the most delicious chocolatey dessert you’ll ever eat. So whether you’re in need of a last minute dessert to serve this Christmas, or you’re pinning it for later, you definitely want to give these a try as soon as you can!
This is a pretty easy recipe. Don’t let the fancy name fool you, or the fact that it’s served at a lot of fancy restaurants. That doesn’t mean anything because it’s actually very easy to make! Let’s start by making the filling. In a saucepan, combine the heavy cream, salt and sugar.
Once the mixture comes to a low simmer, with bubbles forming around the sides, stir in the chocolate, espresso, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir until the chocolate has melted through.
**Note: You can use either bittersweet or dark chocolate for this recipe. I like using either one of these because it isn’t as sweet as either milk or semi-sweet chocolate is. I also like to add the espresso powder and cinnamon because both of these ingredients really bring out that optimal chocolate flavor.**
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar until light and pale in color. Then slowly whisk in the warmed chocolate cream mixture. Pour the custard back into the pot, through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
Divide the custard evenly between four 4-ounce ramekins. Make sure the ramekins are oven safe, as you don’t want them to crack because of the heat.
**Note: These are big rich portions, so if you want to make them smaller, by all means use smaller oven-safe shallow dishes.**
Place the ramekins on a large roasting pan or 9×13-inch baking pan. Then pour boiling water into the pan, halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until set, in a preheated 250 degrees F, for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
**Tip: Baking the custards in a water bath like this allows for the custards to bake evenly and prevents them from cracking or drying out!**
Once they’ve set, carefully remove from the oven and allow them to cool completely. Then transfer to the fridge and let chill for at least 1 hour, or ideally overnight would be best.
**Tip: You can make these up to 3 days in advance and keep them in the fridge at this point. Then just proceed with the following steps right before you plan on serving the Crème Brûlée!**
Right before serving, sprinkle each with about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and then using a small kitchen torch, torch the sugar until the top has caramelized.
**Tip: If you don’t have a kitchen torch, you should get one because there are plenty of uses for it. I got this one from amazon and I love it! But if you don’t have one, and still want to make this dish, you can also place them under a preheated broiler on the top rack, for 1 to 2 minutes.**
Allow the sugar to cool off and harden before serving. Top with a small dollop of fresh whipped cream and a few sprinkles of chopped chocolate.
**Tip: You can also top it with whipped cream and fresh berries. Raspberries and chocolate are a great combination, let’s not forget!**
Once the top of the crème brûlées have been caramelized they should really be eaten as soon as possible because the moisture from the whipped cream and from the custard itself will begin to soften the caramelized sugar top. I’d say you can brown them up to 30 minutes before you plan on serving them, but the fun part of it is to do it right in front of your friends and family!
A great variation to this recipe would be to add 1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter to the custard, when you add the chocolate chips. The heat from the heavy cream will melt the chocolate and peanut butter, giving you the best peanut butter chocolate dessert you’ll ever have.
If you want classic crème brûlée, omit the chocolate, espresso and cinnamon and use the seeds from one vanilla bean instead along with another teaspoon of vanilla extract.
The fun part of any crème brûlée is cracking the top sugar coating. You have to give it a few taps in the center with the back of the spoon, until the sugar shatters. It’s the greatest interactive dessert ever!
This is a great recipe to make when you are having a party, or gathering with family and friends you really want to impress. I find that crème brûlée is a show-stopping dessert that gets everyone excited, especially when torches are involved. Am I wrong, or am I right?
- 2 cups heavy cream
- ¼ cup plus tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 ounces dark chocolate chips (about ½ cup)
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup fresh whipped cream
- 2 tablespoons dark chocolate, chopped
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
- To make the crème brûlée filling, heat the cream, ¼ cup granulated sugar and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the cream just begins to simmer. Add the chocolate, espresso powder, cinnamon and vanilla, and whisk until melted through and smooth. Remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until light and pale in color. Slowly pour the warmed chocolate cream mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour the mixture back into the pot, through a fine mesh strainer to ensure it's completely smooth.
- Divide the custard evenly between four 4-ounce ramekins. Place the ramekins into a large roasting pan or 9x13-inch baking dish. Pour hot water into the roasting pan, halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are set, and no longer jiggle when you gently shake the pan, about 1 hour and 30 minutes. Carefully remove the water and let the custards cool completely.
- Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or overnight. Sprinkle each with 1 tablespoon of sugar, and torch with a handheld kitchen torch until the top is caramelized. You can also broil the custards on the top rack of your oven under a preheated broiler until caramelized, about 1 to 2 minutes. Top with fresh whipped cream and chopped chocolate. Enjoy!