Thursday, March 3, 2011

Chocolate Creme Brulee

Chocolate Creme Brulee

picture from


Makes 4 (or enough for 15 sandwiches)
  • For the creme brulee:
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • For assembling:
  • 4 tablespoons sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Make the creme brulee: Heat cream and 1/4 cup sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves and the cream just begins to simmer. Add chocolate, and whisk until melted and smooth.
  2. Whisk remaining 3 tablespoons sugar with the egg yolks in a medium bowl. Slowly pour cream mixture into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Strain custard through a fine sieve.
  3. Pour custard into four 4-ounce ramekins. Transfer ramekins to a roasting pan, and fill pan with enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are just set, 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Carefully remove from water, and let custards cool.
  4. Assemble the cremes brulees: Refrigerate for 1 hour. Top each with 1 tablespoon sugar. Hold a small handheld kitchen torch at a 90-degree angle 3 to 4 inches from surface of custard. Move flame back and forth until surface is caramelized. Alternatively, broil custards on top rack until caramelized, 1 to 2 minutes.
From Martha Stewart Living, February 2011
Read more at Chocolate Creme Brulee - Martha Stewart Recipes

While exhaling in pure pleasure, my mind drifts east, to the City of Love.  Here, I'm tucked into a cozy corner of a little Parisian cafe (with a view of the Eiffel Tower, of course).  The snooty French waiter (his name is Jean Paul) is adorned with a long, white apron.  Matter of factly, he set my chocolate creme brulee onto my bistro table.  Jean Paul knows that I'm going to be pleased with this dessert. 

That was a fun little getaway, huh?  Now that we are back to the present moment, let's examine the creme brulee in more detail, shall we?  Most of us already know that creme brulee is a French dessert that consists of a custard-like interior and an hard, sugar-glaze top.  Creme brulee is often referred to as burnt creme in English, but is also called crema catalana and trinity cream.  The word brulee is referring to a custard dessert that is finished with a sugar glaze.  Once the dessert has been baked, a butane torch can be used to create the infamous hard shell.  Or, a technique called flambeing(adding hard liquor and burning) is used.  Interestingly, the earliest recording of a creme brulee was in 1691 in a cookbook by Francois Massialot.  The oldest cookbook that I have in my possession is Julie Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking that was published in 1961.  What a contrast!

Until now, I have been largely unaware of how easy it is to make most desserts at home!  Before January, (when I started my blog) I would have never imagined  that my skill level would have allowed me to make such exotic, wonderful and elegant desserts right in my own kitchen! Incorporating Martha, especially into my kitchen, has made my year (so far...) more eventful and I must say more delicious than ever before. Happy Baking!

Photo Gallery

Before dinner and dessert, I ventured outdoors to look for some flowers for our table.  In any season but winter, my outdoor garden loom is full of flowers, "weeds" and dyed wool.  The loom is very therapeutic and turns out some beautiful pieces.  Obviously, at the present moment, it is a blank canvas.  In a few months, it will be packed full of color.
Here are a few lonesome daffs.
Our sacred plum.  I call it sacred because the children absolutely love her.  All summer, they sit under the canopy and eat plum after plum...all sticky-fingered and thankful.
Another cluster of bright, sunshine-yellow daffodils. Spring is near!
You guess it.  I decided to cut some daffodils for our table.  To provide some additional texture, I mixed in some radish greens.
The angelic, beautiful sky.  Serene, calm and tranquil all in one place.
Dusk at Paradise Basin. 
A little piece of heaven is always there...just look up.
Indoors, I have set up our homegrown flower arrangement. It matches our kitchen walls!

The Baking

After making gemelli with yellow squash, peas and basil for dinner, and after the babies were in bed, Jordan and I decided to hit the kitchen once again.  We were craving something sweet.

The chocolate...I want to go to Ghiradelli Square in SF! Hmmm...maybe soon?
The eggs...I adore this antique wire egg basket.
Look at how simple the ingredients are.  I always arrange and measure my ingredients before cooking.  In French, this is called mis en place-meaning "everything in place".  This term was coined by the Culinary Institute of America. Not only to be done on TV, it is also essential for any home chef to do the same.  This is especially true if you have kids running around everywhere.  It really cuts down on errors and the mess.
The recipe called for five egg yolks.  That left me with five egg whites that we used to make Chester an omelet.
"Ruuuff...I love french cooking.  I seem to either get egg whites or yolks every time (and plenty of them)."
"That was tasty.  Can I have some more?"
Now that Chester is squared away, I am back at the stove.  Here, I am pouring the heavy cream into the pot.  Then, sugar is added.
Jordan is stirring.
While we are waiting, I want to show you some really cool bottles that I purchased at an antique store in Newcastle. Each bottle says something different.  One says botany, the other chemistry and the last one says physiology.  Each bottle represents something that I do each and every day.  I really do have a kitchen laboratory!
I wonder how long the glass will last with the kids being 2 and 3?  I keep telling myself not to get too attached :)
Still mixing...
In a mixing bowl, we are going to whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
This is an interesting picture.  I am pouring the chocolate custard into the mixing bowl AND taking the picture.  Jordan is to my right whisking. 
Making dessert by hand is teaching Jordan( and our whole family) patience and self control.  We really have to WORK for our sweets around here.
Here, we are prepping our hot water basin.  The four ramekins are inside and next we are going to fill them with the chocolate custard.  Then, we will add boiling water to the roasting pan.  This All-Clad pan is spacious and beautiful too.  I love the room inside for dessert making and roasting.
Before filling the ramekins, we have to strain the custard through a sieve.  I am using my chinois. In this picture, I'm the one capturing it AND pouring the custard.  Jordan is holding the handle. It is hard to be the camera girl and "chef" at the same time! Woman can really do it all *thank you Rosie*.
Jordan is proud of his chocolate custard.  He makes a feisty one, If I do say so myself.
The ramekins are now full of chocolate custard.
Here is Chester.  As usual, the little pug is always hoping something will hit the floor.

The chocolate creme brulee is done baking.  Now they are ready for us to enjoy!
After pulling them out of the oven, we let them rest for about an hour.
Here I am torching
Jordan really wanted to give it a try too.
After the hard, sugar-shell formed, I dusted each chocolate creme brulee with dutch cocoa and confectioner's sugar.
Inside, it was thick and creamy.  It was a nice contrast to the crunchy top.
I captured Ben just as he took his first bite.  He liked it.
Jordan liked it too.  Although, he apparently does not like the custard texture.  Oh well, we sure had fun in the kitchen together. 

~Just Dessert~


Anonymous said...

Your creme brule looks so good. This dessert can be made even better with by baking a little longer to firm up the custard texture. Also, try a version with berries that really altogether changes the dish.

Anonymous said...

Where did the did the above "with" come from? Lol.

The Green Mama said...

Oh, probably just needed another cup of coffee or somthing...oops! :) LOL. Mistakes happen...