Who doesn’t love Creme Brulee? Or better yet, Chocolate Creme Brulee? And February is all about love and chocolate at LunaCafe.
But, there are so many formulas for Chocolate Crème Brulee, I hardly knew where to begin. After some initial testing, I figured that the important thing was to first get the perfect proportion of egg yolks to cream, then the perfect types and amount of chocolate, and finally the perfect process. The romantic flavor pairing was added after I worked out the basic formula.
It’s such a simple dessert really, but the results I obtained in my early tests were far from perfect. In fact, one was a real clunker.
I made all possible mistakes: too few egg yolks, too many egg yolks, too much chocolate, too little chocolate, and because I wanted to complicate things and include peanut butter, I even used too much peanut butter with too mild (milk) chocolate on the clunker test. And then to top it off, I followed other cook’s directions to bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes, which was far too hot and far too long. My clunker Creme Brulee looked like wacky little souffles.
In frustration, I almost gave up. Then finally, like Goldilocks, I hit upon a formula that is JUST RIGHT.
After I got a workable formula, the next thing was to develop a Valentine’s Day-worthy flavor pairing. I wanted it to be familiar and yet remarkable, like someone you’ve loved for a very long time. I think you’ll agree that this combination of bittersweet chocolate, roasted peanut butter, wildflower honey, and vanilla fills the bill.
Thank you, Bobby Flay, for your inspiration in the brilliant Mesa Grill Cookbook. Yes, of course, I wreaked my usual havoc with your concept, changing the proportions, process, and even the ingredients–so I guess this is a ThrowDown. But you’re still The Man.
P.S. Valentine’s Day was three days ago, mea culpa. But now you have this recipe a year in advance of NEXT Valentine’s Day. And besides, any day is a good day for love and Chocolate Crème Brulee.
Dark Chocolate, Peanut Butter & Honey Creme Brulee
If there is a flavor pairing made in heaven, it is surely chocolate and peanuts, or even better, chocolate and peanut butter. Add a floral honey and fragrant vanilla bean in a creamy, silky baked custard with a caramelized sugar crust, and the angels will join you for dessert. Maybe Bobby Flay will come too.
3 cups heavy cream
4-inch length vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
½ cup wildflower honey
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
5 ounces premium-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped (around 56% cacao)
½ cup natural, creamy peanut butter
6 large egg yolks
¼ cup sugar
½ cup turbinado sugar
- Arrange eight, ¾-cup (6 ounce) ramekins in a large baking pan on top of a clean washcloth (to protect bottoms from overheating). Reserve.
- In a large saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.
- Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean halves into the hot cream and throw in the bean as well. Stir in honey and salt.
- Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate and peanut butter until melted and smooth.
- Let steep for at least ½ hour, and then bring back to a simmer.
- In the meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until well combined.
- To temper the yolks, add a little of the reheated cream mixture and whisk to combine. Repeat this process several more times to gradually warm the yolks, and then whisk in the remainder of the cream mixture.
- Pour the custard through a fine strainer into a quart-size, spouted, glass measuring cup. Rinse, dry, and reuse the vanilla bean. Discard residue remaining in the strainer.
- Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 325°F.
- Fill the ramekins, leaving at least ¼-inch of headroom. Put the baking pan onto the oven shelf and carefully pour boiling water around the ramekins to halfway up the sides. (If the water is not boiling, your ramekins will take longer to bake.)
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custards are set at the edges but still soft (not liquid) at the centers. Remove from the oven and carefully remove each ramekin from the water bath to a cooling rack.
- When cool, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and chill until cold, from 4 to 24 hours.
- When ready to serve, arrange an oven rack close to the upper heating element of the oven and heat the broiler.
- Using a small processor, process the turbinado sugar until very fine, and then scrape through a fine sieve into a small mixing bowl. Sprinkle the surface of each custard with about 2 teaspoons sugar, arrange ramekins on an edged baking sheet and broil to melt the sugar, about 2 minutes. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to melt the sugar, being careful not to burn the sugar.
- Serve immediately.
Makes 8 custards (4 cups batter).
Check out these additional CHOCOLATE recipes, from the first, second, third, and fourth Love Rules! All Chocolate! All Month! celebrations at LunaCafe.
- Warm-Spiced Molten Chocolate Cake
- Chocolate Ginger Chipotle Stout Cake
- Spicy Chocolate, Banana & Fresh Ginger Tea Loaf
- Mexicano Chocolate Ebelskivers (Aebleskivers)
- Spirited Mocha Crepes with Peanut Butter Caramel, Peanut-Cocoa Nib Brittle & White Chocolate Crema
- Heavenly Chocolate Crepes
- Chocolate Shortcake with White Chocolate Crema, Strawberry Lime Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- Rosalyn’s Toasted Coconut White Chocolate Dream Pie
- Chocolate Almond Pound Cake
- Bittersweet Chocolate Orange French Toast for Lovers
- Fried Banana Split with Mexican Chocolate Sauce & Strawberry Lime Salsa
- LunaCafe Otherworldly Silky Fudgy Brownies
- Quintessential Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce
- The Wonderful World of Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
- White Chocolate, Cardamom & Coconut Beignet
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Cabernet Butter Cake
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Montmorency Cherry Morning Love Muffins
- Bittersweet Chocolate & Toasted Walnut Cookies Perfecta Mundo!
- Burnt Sugar & Rosemary Chocolate Tarts
- LunaCafe’s Ultimate Chocolate Pudding
- Luscious White Chocolate & Raspberry Rose Petal Cheesecake
- Mexican Hearts of Fire Cookies
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Copyright 2012 Susan S. Bradley. All rights reserved.