I love crème brûlée and always have one on the menu.
This recipe is particularly good because it contains raw cacao, which means that it is dense and smooth even if slightly undercooked. That’s key to what we do, to have classic recipes that are delicious and work well and don’t require an explanation to understand – it’s a dessert. But there is an explanation if you want one…
It’s easier to make and not screw up than a regular crème brûlée for two reasons: the mixture is thicker, so it doesn’t wobble and splash the sides of the dish when you put in the oven; and the ganache texture is still great even if medium-rare, which is not the case of an egg custard.
You can order cocoa paste from an online supplier, or use the same amount of smooth, high-quality 100% chocolate. For extra flavour, sprinkle a little bit of house bitters and some Balinese sea salt flakes on top of the ramekins before serving.
Makes 6 (150g) servings
140g sugar, plus extra to serve
1 vanilla bean (pod)
10g cocoa paste, chopped finely
80g egg yolks
Heat the cream in a pan until it boils. Prepare a dry caramel by heating the sugar in a heavy-based pan over a high heat. Just before it burns – it should be reddish brown in colour, and with the medium foam subsiding – add the vanilla and deglaze with the cream.
When all the caramel is dissolved, and the liquid has returned to a boil, add the cocoa paste and stir to emulsify.
Whisk the milk lightly with the egg yolks. Away from the heat, add this mixture to the caramel mixture. Stir well, strain, and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator overnight to set.
The following day, heat the oven to 160°C and divide the caramel among six ramekins. Place in a roasting tin and pour in water to reach halfway up the sides. Cover with tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes.
When shiny and elastic, the custards are ready. To serve, scatter with sugar and cook with a blowtorch until crisp and golden.