The thing I love about the Valentine’s Days Gerrit and I have created is that all we do is be ourselves. There is no pressure for anything special, except some chocolate and a card. I make us a nice meal and we eat in the dining room as opposed to the kitchen, and we just sit and talk. It is perfectly relaxed and perfectly us.
I’ll share with you what I made for dinner in a few days, but I think what we really all care about more is what I made for dessert.
To be honest with you, I’ve never quite gotten traditional creme brulee. I mean, it’s delicious and decadent and elegant and such an impressive treat. But in a dessert containing basically sweetened cream and vanilla for flavor, I always want a little bit more. And I don’t mean more calorie wise, because really I cannot even bring myself to make things like this with only heavy cream anymore, but more flavor wise, like a more intense vanilla or maybe some orange or a some cinnamon. Or really, even better, some chocolate.
And what I like even more about this is that you don’t think it’s chocolate at first. You think you’re just getting some regular creme brulee, and then you find the surprise of chocolate at the bottom and life is even better. The flavor adds a perfect compliment to the vanilla custard, which with this recipe is really the perfect intense amount of vanilla. The chocolate breaks up your bites, so that when you have a little bite of what is basically a chocolate truffle and then you go back to the custard, it seems like a new and deeply rich flavor every single time.
For such a decadent, impressive dessert, it really is easy to make, even with the added step of melting the chocolate part. The most difficult part for us was melting the sugar on top. We don’t have a kitchen torch and I was scared to put my little ramekins under the broiler (it seems like a pretty common thing that people do, but on the bottom they say “no broiler”…does anyone have any experience with this? is it really okay to do?). So we just pulled out a regular lighter and waved it over the sugar until we reached a “good enough” point, which was a bit disappointing. But really, once I got to all that chocolate and vanilla underneath, I hardly even noticed.
Black and White Creme Brulee
adapted from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Wait Time: 8 hours, 35 minutes
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy whipping cream
5 large egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons light brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place a medium-sized heat-proof bowl or double boiler over simmering water. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream and chocolate chips. Heat until chocolate is melted and smooth, stirring often. When chocolate is melted, remove from heat and divide it evenly into 6 (5-6 oz.) ramekins. Set aside and allow it to cool.
3. In a large bowl whisk together half and half, whipping cream, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Pour this mixture evenly into the six ramekins over the cooled chocolate. Place the ramekins in a 9 x 13 (or larger if necessary) baking pan. Add hot water to the pan (the hottest water from your kitchen sink will do just fine) until it comes about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
4. Carefully place the pan with the water and ramekins in the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes, until the custards are set.
5. Remove from oven and allow the custards to cool while still sitting in the water, for about 30 minutes. Then remove the ramekins from the water bath, cover them with plastic wrap, and chill them in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
6. When you are ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the refrigerator and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of light brown sugar evenly over the top of each custard. Use a kitchen torch to heat the sugar until it is melted. Then let it stand for about 5 minutes, until hardened, before serving.