Chocolate-amaretto crème brûlée

It's a crème brûlée encore today.  Given the chocoholic that I am, how could I not make a chocolate version.  In fact, any time I make or eat a non-chocolate dessert, some part of me is wondering if there is or could be a chocolate version of it.  That is just how I was programmed.  
Before I even got my little kitchen blow torch for Christmas, I saw and pulled out a lightened-up milk chocolate crème brûlée recipe from Cooking Light that I wanted to try.  I was a little presumptuous, I admit, in expecting Santa to bring me that torch.  

Now with blow torch in hand, I looked at that recipe and decided to change it up.  I did away with the milk chocolate and went with dark.  My heart wanted dark chocolate despite the rationalization that the sweeter milk chocolate would probably work better in a "lightened" version using milk instead of cream for the custard.  Not only that, milk chocolate melts better with liquid than dark chocolate, which tends to be stubborn.  But regardless, I generally prefer dark chocolate these days.
I did stick with using milk (instead of cream or half and half) for this chocolate custard.  You just need to be a little patient in the melting process.  I also kept the amaretto in the recipe.  That was an element that really appealed to me because my husband and I love a good splash of amaretto in our desserts.  

This is kind of like a bruleed pot de crème, except there's no "crème".  But even without cream, it's certainly creamy and what you might give up in richness, you make up for with more pronounced chocolate flavor.  Using milk in the custard leaves you with a clearer taste of that underlying chocolate, and the touch of amaretto liqueur.  It's kind of like gelato versus ice cream.
I called on my handy stash of pistachios to break up the visual monotony of all the darkness (chopped almonds would be a great choice, too) but taste-wise, I am all for full-on deep chocolate flavor.  This chocolate-amaretto crème brûlée is a real treat but it didn't leave us feeling weighed down.  This is the magic of cooking/baking at home and being able to tweak a few things here and there to your own liking.  My recipe makes two and I say this qualifies as a very romantic dessert for Valentine's Day if chocolate is your thing.  I hope it is.


For 2 servings like the one you see in the ramekin below, I used 1 cup of whole milk, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 egg yolks, 2 ounces of 60% dark chocolate, a generous teaspoon of amaretto, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
I'm always concerned with getting dark chocolate to fully melt into milk.  Short of blitzing the mixture in a blender (which you particularly do not want to do here since you don't want a ton of air bubbles on the surface), you basically just need to be patient and take a few extra minutes to gently whisk the chocolate into the milk to get it as fully incorporated as possible.

I bake the custard in a water bath, at 300 degrees, for about 35 minutes, until they are set and barely jiggle when moved.  For the caramelized topping here, I used about 2 teaspoons  of sugar.  The amount of sugar topping is relatively discretionary.  When I use wider crème brûlée dishes, I go with a tablespoon  of sugar but for these regular round ramekins, I found 2 teaspoons to be sufficient enough to give you a generous layer of that crackly sugar topping.
These are full of dark chocolate flavor, with a background note of delicious amaretto - possibly my favorite liqueur.  I could totally eat the custard plain but that caramelized sugar sugar crust contrasts beautifully with it to give us texture.  

The richness of chocolate allows us to use milk and omit the cream in this recipe, and I enjoyed how the dark chocolate custard was lighter tasting and feeling because of it. We recently went out for brunch where dessert was a beautiful array of mini treats. We tasted a bit of (nearly) everything.  When it came to the mini crème brûlée, the vanilla custard was so thick, the texture was very close to butter.  That was an extreme case but to me, there can be such a thing as too much richness and my body seems to have a lower threshold for it the older I get. 


Recipe:

Chocolate-Amaretto Crème Brûlée
Adapted loosely from this milk chocolate crème brûlée recipe from Cooking Light

- For 2 (6-ounce ramekin) servings - 

1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
2 ounces dark chocolate (I used 60%), finely chopped
1 teaspoon amaretto liqueur
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For topping: 4 teaspoons sugar; chopped pistachios or almonds, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Bring a kettle of water to a boil and set aside.  Place two 6-ounce ramekins into a baking dish.

In a small saucepan, bring milk, sugar, and salt to a near boil.  Add chocolate and gently whisk in until chocolate melts.  It may take a few minutes to fully melt the chocolate.  

In a mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks until thick and pale yellow in color.  Temper the yolks by gradually streaming a bit of the hot milk mixture into it while whisking constantly.  Whisk in the remaining hot liquid and then sieve mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a measuring cup or mixing bowl.  Gently whisk in the amaretto and vanilla extract.

Divide mixture between the ramekins.  Carefully pour hot water into the baking dish so that it comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  Bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until custard is set and barely jiggles when moved.  Remove ramekins from the water bath, let cool, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours until firm.

Right before serving, sprinkle each ramekin evenly with about 2 teaspoons of sugar. Use a kitchen blow torch and very carefully caramelize the sugar.  You should have a layer of dark golden brown caramel.  Let sit for 2 minutes before serving so the caramelized sugar can harden into a thin crispy layer that shatters under your spoon. Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped pistachios or almonds, if desired.





48 comments:

  1. I have never had a chocolate creme brulee!! This looks absolutely fantastic! I especially love that you added the pistachios (the color alone!!) Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

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    1. You know something, Ashley...I think this was my first, too! I did pretty much use the pistachios for color alone (haha) but it doesn't taste half-bad either. ; )

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  2. This looks amazing! I have never had a chocolate creme brulee. You are so creative and I am so happy that this has turned out so awesome.

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    1. I can't take any credit for creativity, Angie. I remember seeing a few articles on brulee-ing and basically the message was 'hey, you can pretty much brulee anything!' haha

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  3. I got a kitchen blow torch for Christmas too! This looks delicious!!
    Tina from tinaschic.com

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    1. It's fun, that torch! I keep craving creme brulee now as a result. : )

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  4. Your sugar top looks like the perfect thickness for a wonderful crunch with each creamy bite! Love chocolate, anytime, anywhere. The pistachios were a great addition too. I need a good dessert and lightened up sounds terrific!

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    1. Thanks, Tricia! It looks so dark and decadent but (I know it might sound crazy) it actually doesn't taste heavy at all. Using milk in the custard is totally enough richness for me here.

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  5. This looks phenomenal, Monica! I am usually not the chocolate dessert person in our family but I am seriously craving for a batch of this creme brulee. I have never tried a chocolate creme brulee before and it sounds amazing! I love the amaretto and pistachios in here too!

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    1. That's great. I love to induce chocolate cravings. haha. The amaretto is wonderful and the caramelized crust is a nice contrast against the creamy chocolate custard. It goes down easy. ; )

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  6. This looks so good- perfect for my chocolate cravings! I've never had chocolate brulee... I need a torch! :)

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    1. Thanks, Betty. Hope a kitchen torch finds its way to your kitchen one day soon. : )

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  7. This is absolutely out of the world amazing. I love creme brulee, the crunch topping everything is perfect. You also added amaretto, omg. You do come up some of the best desserts ever.
    Printing this out.

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    1. Just call me a great "recipe curator" maybe? ; ) I wish I could come up with creative flavor combinations the way you do with your food, Asha. I do like to sniff around and find recipes for things my family and I like to eat...I leave most of the creativity to others and it's worked out well so far for me. : )

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  8. Simply damn delicious and fancy creme brulee!!!

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    1. It's really easy and great for a date night. : )

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  9. This looks yummy Monica, I love the dark chocolate and liqueur combination.

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    1. Same here on the chocolate and liqueur. ; )

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  10. Oh my gosh, this looks sooo decadent! Definitely need to give chocolate creme brulee a try (:

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    1. All that dark chocolate does look decadent, doesn't it, Caroline? Amazingly enough, using milk to make that base, it's actually not heavy. I have a high tolerance for chocolate desserts though. ; )

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  11. I am currently on a creme brulee kick...so far I've only tried my hand at vanilla-y versions, but I'm thinking chocolate HAS to happen. This sounds amazing!

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    1. I find myself on a similar kick, Joanne. I am constantly thinking a creme brulee is perfect for dessert.

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  12. Wow, this dessert looks absolutely heavenly! Perfect for my chocolate addiction.

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    1. Thanks, Pamela. I'm here for any chocolate emergencies. ; )

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    1. That's generally how I feel about chocolate. ; )

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  14. Ooooh gosh, I LOVE idea of a chocolate version of creme brulee. Now I kind of wish I had a flame torch of my own to play with, so I can make beautiful creme brulees like you ;) The pistachio topping is also too perfect!

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    1. It's such a neat trick! I want to use the torch all the time. : )

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  15. I love, love, love creme brûlée and creating a chocolate version is making me swoon over this dessert. Every good chef needs a good torch!!! Have a super day. Sharing of course!

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    1. I'm no chef but I'm happy I got that torch in my arsenal now. ; ) Thanks, BAM.

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  16. Do you have a Playing with flour Pinterest account?

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    1. Thanks for asking...but no, my official "playing with flour" antics are pretty much relegated to this little space (for now).

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  17. A chocolate creme brulee? So awesome! and love that you used dark chocolate.

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    1. Thanks, Ashley. Chocolate creme brulee is a great thing!

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  18. Lucky you! I want a little torch, but have yet to get one. This creme brûlée looks delicious!

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    1. It is a fun little gadget to have, Cindy. : )

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  19. Monica you've inspired the most wicked chocolate craving in me. I had to get up and get some chocolate in the middle of reading this :P

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  20. You know Monica, when I first got my blow torch I made a chocolate creme brulee too! This amaretto one is going to be on my list now...it has to taste out of this world for sure! I love the pistachios on top too..this is a wonderful dessert not just for V day but any time one has a chocolate craving. Decadent and delicious:-)

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    1. That's great! I would love to see/taste yours! : )

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  21. I came across your blog while looking for some good food recipes and liked a lot. How amazing! I will keep an eye out for all your recipes :)

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  22. What a decadent treat! I know what I'll be making this weekend for desserts! :P

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  23. This looks and sounds so fantastic! Creme brulee is my favorite dessert... swoon...

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    1. Marie!! So nice to hear from you - I need a post from you soon, my friend! Seriously!!
      Hope all is well...have some creme brulee or something equally delicious and luxurious on Valentine's Day! xo

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  24. I must confess that I'm not a fan of creme brulee- but only because I don't like the "brulee" on top! I love what's underneath. And this looks like a deliciously decadent chocolate pudding!!

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    1. No judgement here, Amy! It's probably a "good" thing you don't want the top...the creamy chocolate bottom (yes, it's just like a pudding) would be good enough for me, too! mmm... ; )

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