A few summers ago I spent a glorious weekend hanging out with my girlfriends. We all brought something to eat or drink. I was asked to bring dessert – something chocolaty. I spent a good deal of time agonizing over what to bring. My friends are pretty amazing, and I couldn’t bring just any dessert. The best of the best was the only option, and Chocolate Chai Crème Brûlée fit the bill marvelously.
The texture of this crème brûlée is my idea of heaven. It is richly thick and silken. My friends enjoyed this crème brûlée so much. We nearly couldn’t wait to eat the leftovers for breakfast the next day. These pots of custard were just as good with morning coffee as with red wine the night before.
I have made this recipe without the spices and tea a few times. It’s good with just chocolate, but the chai flavors give a subtle round backdrop to the bitter chocolate. The crèmes aren’t hard to make, be sure you have time for an extended cooling period in the refrigerator before serving. Also, burn the sugar right before serving. The caramel won’t stay crisp for very long.
This recipe does require a blowtorch. I purchased mine at a hardware store for under $20. If you do go to a hardware store be sure to ask for a propane torch. I requested a torch for crème brûlée and was quickly shown to the display of grill lighters. The poor guy helping me probably never tried crème brûlée and most certainly thought I was batty! Ask for a propane torch with confidence.
- 2 ½ C half and half
- 1 ¼ C heavy cream
- 4 bags of chai black tea or 2 T loose tea
- 16 cardamom pods - smashed
- 6 large egg yolks
- 2 T sugar
- 5 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate - not chips
- extra sugar for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees
- Arrange 8 4oz ramekins in a baking dish. Set aside.
- Put the chopped chocolate into a medium heatproof bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium pot over medium heat combine the half and half, cream, smashed cardamom pods and seeds and the tea. Bring to simmer slowly and then remove from heat. Let the cream mixture infuse for 5 minutes.
- Strain cream mixture through a fine sieve to remove tea leaves and cardamom. Return the cream to the pot and bring to a simmer again.
- Meanwhile, whisk the 2 T of sugar and the egg yolks together.
- Slowly temper (pour) the hot cream into the eggs, whisking constantly.
- Strain the cream and egg mixture through a fine sieve onto the chopped chocolate.
- Whisk the chocolate and liquid custard together until the chocolate is completely melted and emulsified.
- Pour the custard into the ramekins and put the dish of ramekins into the oven. Pour room temperature water into the baking dish to cover the bottom half of the ramekins.
- Bake for approximately 50 minutes until the custards are set but still have a slight tremble in the middle.
- Remove from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath. Cool the custards to room temperature and then cool completely in the refrigerator.
- To caramelize the custards, sprinkle the tops of the custards with sugar. On a heatproof surface, wave the lit torch over the chocolate keeping the flame 6 inches away from the sugar. Move the flame around the custard taking care not to over-burn any one spot. When all of the sugar is caramelized, move on to the next custard.
- Serve immediately.