Monday, November 29, 2010

Baked Chocolate Caramel Custard

This is so easy and so good it's crazy. Baked custards are an old-fashioned, simple dessert that are nearly impossible to go wrong with and offer an endless variety of flavors.

Baked Chocolate Caramel Custard

Preheat the oven to 325 F

In a large heavy bottomed pot place 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar, mix briefly to incorporate, turn the heat to medium high and cook until a rich caramel color about 3-5 minutes.  The darker it gets the more "burnt" caramel the flavor.  The minute it is ready take off the heat and pour, in a continuous stream, 2 cups of heavy cream, it will bubble and hiss and some of the caramel will seize up and harden, place the pot back on the burner on a medium heat, stirring constantly until all the harden caramel has dissolved - could take about 5 minutes.  Take off the heat and add 1 cup of whole milk.

In a large bowl separate 7 large egg yolks (keep the eggs whites for an angel food cake or macaroons) add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and whisk until light and yellow and slightly increased in volume.

Over a double boiler melt 5 ounces of 70 percent (or darker) fine dark chocolate in a large bowl.  When it has melted remove from the hot water.

Pour the hot caramel mixture slowly into the beaten eggs, whisking as you go, you don't want the yolks to cook, add the caramel mixture in a slow continuous stream until all of it has been mixed in with the egg yolks.

Then repeat this process slowly, whisking the egg yolk and caramel mixture into the melted chocolate. 
Add 2 Teaspoons of good quality amber rum or vanilla and stir.

I used wide low 4 ounce ramekins and got 7 servings.  It's very rich, so if you have smaller ramekins you could make it work or I also made this in a porcelain pie dish and let my dinner guests scoop it out for themselves so they control how much joy they wanted! Basically the technique is simple: you fill the containers you are using up, leaving about 1/2 " at the top, then place them either on a cookie sheet or in a bigger deeper pan if you are using a larger container, fill the baking pans with hot tap water until it comes about 2/3 of the way up the ramekin or what ever you are using.  The cooking time will vary but for the 4 ounce ramekins they were ready in about 40 minutes.  The pie dish took an hour and 15.  You want the custard to be set but a little jiggly in the middle.  These are very forgiving. 

When cooked remove from the oven and take out of the hot water bath.  Cool to room temp then chill for several hours before serving.  Grated chocolate and unsweetened whip cream make a great garnish.

If you want to make variations on this you could add 1/2 Teaspoon of 5 Spice Powder or Cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne to make it Mexican Chocolate, or you could swap out the chocolate of squash puree and add pumpkin pie spices, or add some fresh ginger....the options are endless and I feel pretty confident in saying your guest won't ever get tired of trying them all!  

I served simple Pecan Shortbread with this.

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