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Anthony O'SHAUGHNESSY

Badass Geordie cook eating his way around the world. 

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

The French classic - is there any dessert like it? Well actually, quite a few as it happens! There’s a bit of a debate about variations of this dessert. Some say it is British in origin, being created at Trinity College, Cambridge (where it was known as ‘Trinity Cream’). There’s a similar one in Catalonia, ‘Creme Catalana’, which is quite different: it’s not as rich, flavoured with cinnamon and orange, and has a very delicate caramel crust, unlike the mama. A creme brûlée is a delight to make, I’m not just saying it. A creme brûlée involves simply making a custard, which is and essential cook’s skill to have in conquering many desserts, especially French ones!

I don’t want to bore you with a simple creme brûlée recipe - they are roughly all the same really. I would love to guide you through making one though because its a great dessert to have in your repertoire, and everybody adores it! But as with cooking, it’s thrilling to make things you can’t find in shops or restaurants. Now I have never seen a chocolate creme brûlée on my travels, and that’s a real shame because it’s absolutely insane delicious. Whenever I make this dessert for people it’s gone in 60 seconds! The custard base is an excellent canvas for dark chocolate, bringing out the soft, earthy flavours and aromas of good-quality chocolate. The cocoa butter in the chocolate sets the custard into a sensational, silky pudding to be sealed beneath a pane of hard caramel. It’s an unforgettable dessert.

CHOCOLATE Crème Brûlée 

  • 300ml Double Cream
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 60g caster sugar (plus extras for sprinkling)
  • 150ml full-fat Milk
  • 75g Best Quality Dark Chocolate (75% cocoa minimum)
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon of Vanilla Bean Paste
  1. To begin, place the 300ml of double cream and 150ml of milk into a saucepan and heat until almost boiling.
  2. In the meantime, place the 4 egg yolks into a mixing bowl along with the 60g of caster sugar and the vanilla. Bean paste is the easiest for this, or you could use a vanilla pod, cutting it in half and scraping the black seeds out into the bowl. Whisk everything together until golden and smooth.
  3. Once the milk is near boiling, take off the heat and slowly pour into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly as you do so. Adding the hot milk too fast can make the eggs scramble, so add it bit by bit. Once all of the milk is in, pour this mixture back into the saucepan and place on a low heat.
  4. Heat the mixture on a low heat and stir constantly while the temperature creeps up. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan with the spoon where the mixture can sometimes stick. The mixture will begin to thicken to a consistency like yoghurt. As it becomes thick, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir to make sure the mixture doesn’t overheat and curdle. Once thick, take the pan off the heat.
  5. Now for the chocolate, take 75g of best-quality dark chocolate, minimum 75% cocoa (don’t use milk chocolate, as it will just dilute in the custard) and snap it into square. Add the chocolate into the custard while its hot and stir until all of the chocolate had melted. Watch as the custard becomes progressively silky and chocolatey. 
  6. Pour the chocolate custard into a small, heatproof dish. You want the creme brûlée to be no deeper than an inch, so pick a dish that is small and shallow - or you could use ramekins. Place these dishes somewhere to cool completely for 2-3 hours, either in a refrigerator or a cool, dark corner.
  7. When ready to serve, it’s time to make the caramel crust (I love this part!) The best way to do this is with a kitchen blowtorch*. Sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons of caster sugar around the top of the dish, using your fingers to gently coax the sugar all the way around to cover any bare patches. Gently torch the sugar around the sides of the dish before moving to the centre of the dessert. If you don’t have a blowtorch, you can do it under a hot grill. Place the dish under a grill and rotate it every few minutes to heat the sugar evenly. This method can sometimes heat the custard, so it may be best to leave for an hour to cool afterwards.
  8. Serve with spoons and let everybody dive in. Get used to this recipe because there’s no doubt you’ll be asked to make it again!

 *You can buy blowtorches fairly cheap online. It’s worth having one if you plan to make creme brûlée again and again. If you do, make sure you buy the suitable butane gas online too, as I’ve found most butane cans in shops don’t properly fit kitchen blowtorches.

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