Coconut milk chocolate anyone?
When you get a delivery of free chocolates, you make chocolate creme brulee! It began when BeeTee’s, www.beeteesmelt.in a bean to bar chocolate company sent me 3 of their wonderful, Melt-brand artisanal chocolates. Their sinful treats are 100% vegetarian, gluten, soy, refined sugar and preservative free. My goodies box had 72% Dark Chocolate, 54% Coconut Milk Chocolate and 48% Milk Chocolate. I was most intrigued by the coconut milk chocolate, since I’d never tasted this kind of chocolate before. At the very first bite, I got the distinctive hit of coconut sugar – a mild sweetness complementing the intense chocolate and a pleasant hum of coconut oil (from the coconut milk in the bar). The coconut rings true with an almost coconut toffee-like flavour and yet doesn’t overpower the depth of the chocolate.
A different kind of creme brulee
Creme brulee is a French classic – a simple but luxurious custard of cream, egg yolks, vanilla and sugar, baked in bain marie and topped with a crunchy cap of caramelised sugar. I wanted to make a chocolate version of this timeless dessert. My heart was set on the BeeTee’s Melt Coconut Milk Chocolate, so I decided on making a chocolate creme brulee with coconut milk. It would accentuate the coconutty aspect. I used coconut milk, not coconut cream and my brulee was really luscious. Let me add that, this chocolate creme brulee has a combination of cream (25% fat) and coconut milk. Other than that, it has egg yolks, muscovado or brown sugar (for the custard) and a little demerara sugar for the crust. It’s a quick recipe and quite effortless, especially when you get a sophisticated dessert that looks like much time and energy were spent over it.
When my spoon sank into the thick velvety custard, it was plush, like a soft, smooth, creamy and jiggly magma of chocolate custard. Aaah! That first mouthful was a thick, dark pile of chocolate heaven on my tongue and I had to close my eyes to savour it. The coconut was like a diffused halo holding the hit of cacao within.
How to make the perfect creme brulee crust without a blow torch
We’ve all seen cheffy cooking shows and beautiful pictures of creme brulees with their crackly crusts of perfectly burnt or bruleed sugar. This is easy if you own a blowtorch, which many of us home cooks don’t want to invest in. So then, the alternative is to brown the sugar under the oven broiler. This, in my experience, only works on paper. In reality, the custard melts while the sugar remains as it is. The internet suggested a hack to achieve that tap-tap-worthy brulee crust. I tried it on my chocolate creme brulee and lo and behold, it worked. All you have to do is, sprinkle the chilled custards with demerara sugar, heat a steel spoon (that you don’t mind ruining) over a flame till red hot and then press its back on the sugar all over the custard. Repeat this a few times till you have bruleed all the custard surfaces evenly. There’ll be some smoke (love the drama of it) before you have nicely burnt sugar crusts which stand up to the spoon-tap test. Check out this short video to see how it’s done.
Chocolate Coconut Creme Brulee
- 300 ml coconut milk
- 200 ml cream (25-30 per cent fat)
- 110 g BeeTee's Melt Coconut Milk Chocolate
- 6 egg yolks
- 70 g muscovado or soft brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp salt
- 6 tbsp demerara sugar (for the crust)
- Preheat the oven to 180°C.
- Whisk the egg yolks and muscovdo sugar in a bowl till light and frothy, about 2 mins.
- Gently heat the coconut milk and cream in a saucepan until quite hot but not boiling. Add the salt and the vanilla. Switch off the heat.
- Chop the chocolate bar, place in a glass bowl and pour the hot cream mixture over to melt the pieces. Stir the chocolate into a smooth, lump-free mixture.
- Whisk a tablespoon of the chocolate cream into the egg. Follow by whisking in a few more tablespoons of cream into the egg (this helps temper the eggs and prevents them from being scrambled by the hot cream). Finally whisk all the cream into the eggs.
- Pour the custard into 150-ounce ramekins and place in a baking tray. Put the tray in the preheated oven and pour boiling water to the tray to reach halfway up the height of the ramekins.
- Cook the custards for 20-25 minutes, till they're set but still have a slight wiggle in the centre. Remove from the oven, bring to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours or overnight.
- Before serving, gently blot the surface of the custards using kitchen paper. Sprinkle 1 tbsp demerara sugar over each custard and brulee or burn the sugar with a blowtorch. This will give it a crust of caramelised sugar.
- If you don't have a blowtorch, heat the head of a spoon over a flame (while holding the other end with thick oven mittens so you don't burn your hand) till it's red hot. Then gently press the sugar on the surface of the custard with the back of the spoon till the sugar caramelises. Do this for a few times for each custard till all of them have a crackly crust