Chocolate Chai Crème Brûlée

Last week was not my week. I didn’t have a serious reason to be down about it, but lots of little things started to wear on me.

It was my third week of cold showers. This sounds silly, but when you have big hair like me, washing isn’t just a few seconds under the water. Headaches from blood rushing to my head were a miserable morning ritual I do not wish to repeat again any time soon.

The weekend previous I decided to leave the sage brush sea for the Monterey Bay, but thought it would be best to give my notice on the first of the month. I tend to be a very open person so I felt lots of stress, anxiety, and guilt over withholding information that would affect my colleagues lives. I also feel like an idiot to leave my job in this economy, even if it offers no future.

Tradesman boyfriend left to go work several hours away. I won’t see him for a couple weeks. I actually don’t mind being alone, but I think the other things wouldn’t have bothered me as much if he were here to ground me. I know I should be glad he is working in this economy, and I really am, but I think I’m still allowed to miss him.

Needless to say, I was feeling cranky so I didn’t feel like writing last week. I can hear the world’s smallest violin playing the theme song to my angst. I promise I will be back to the regular, positive version of me in my next post.

To lift my tired, miserable spirits I wanted to make my Friday evening meal decadent.

Last summer tradesman boyfriend spent most of the season off fighting wildland fire. To celebrate my girl time I would occasionally have crème brûlée and berries for dinner, paired with a glass or two of California sparkling wine. Noir era films would be my company. I realize this sounds very lonely, but when you live where I do it’s best to get comfortable with solitude.

I moderate my consumption of most things very well; but I have problem with raspberries. At 25, I’ll still eat myself sick if I’m left to my own devices with a flat of those delicious red balls of ambrosia. I suppose my excitement when I spot a worthy display at farmers’ markets is akin to a crack addict finding a new dealer.

I had planned to do my usual routine of vanilla crème brûlée and berries, but I ate them all before I got home. So, back to square one.

Heart Kneads wrote a post a couple weeks ago about chai shortbread for a fall road trip. I had never considered chai a fall flavor before, but that got me thinking about how suitable it really is.

Chocolate Chai Pots de Creme or Crème Brûlée

Ingredients:

1 c heavy whipping cream

1/4 c grated or very finely chopped Toblerone

3 oz bakers chocolate grated or finely chopped

1/4 c Oregon Chai original chai tea latte

1 Tazo tea bag

2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp + 2 Tsp (40 mL) granulated sugar

Equipment:

Three 4-ounce ramekins

Wire whisk

Sieve

Mixing bowl

Measuring cup

Baking pan with 2-inch sides

Pot

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Toblerone & microplaneNot melty chocolate and milk

Pour the cream, chocolate, chai, and chai teabag into a saucepan, bring to a shimmer. Watch the pot closely and whisk regularly to ensure you don’t burn the milk. Once the mixture is brought to a simmer, remove from heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 5 minutes.

Melty chocolate and milk

While the mixture steeps, whisk the egg yolks and sugar in the mixing bowl for several minutes until the yolks are thick, pale yellow, and form a fat, slowly dissolving ribbon when dropped from the whisk back into the bowl.

Yolks and sugarCustard base

Remove the tea bag from the pot. Dribble half a cup of hot cream into the yolks, stirring constantly (not beating–you do not want form bubbles). Adding it in a slow stream, stir in the rest of the cream. It you dump it all in at once, you may end up with a scrambled egg mess.

Set the sieve over container that’s easy to pour from and strain the custard mixture through it to eliminate any coagulated bits of egg. Skim off any bubbles from the surface of the custard.

Place ramekins in the baking pan and pour custard in, leaving at least 1/4” empty at the top for the glaze. Set baking pan in the oven and pour enough water to come half way up the ramekins.

Chocolate Chai waiting for the over

Bake 40 min, or until tops are set but the custard in the center is still very soft to the touch. Gently remove the baking pan from the oven and lift the ramekins from the hot water. Let them cool briefly, then chill thoroughly in the refrigeration, at least 4 hours. Serve them as pots de creme (which is what I ate), or glaze them as follows.

Brown-sugar crust

Break up an lumps with your fingers. Sprinkle a tablespoon over each custard & smooth it gently with the back of a spoon, forming an even layer of sugar that covers the surface.

Place the ramekins on a baking dish. Turn on the broiler and place the ramekins underneath, so the surface of the sugar is roughly 5 inches below the heat. Leave the door open so you can watch as the sugar melts and starts to caramelize. Turn the ramekins around if one side gets too brown, so that the glaze is consistent all around. Remove the custards as soon as the sugar has turned to a smooth sheet of brown glaze. If it has blackened spots, set the remaining custards lower or reduce the time.

Chill them briefly before serving.

P.S. – I’ll try to upload photos later. I’s taking forever! I’m so excited to not be borrowing internet anymore soon. Done!

P.P.S. – I’m sure you can simplify your ingredients list with success. I wanted to use the chocolate and chai I had on hand, but I think you could get away with using one kind of each.

Chocolate Chai Pot de Creme

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