This has to be one of my favorite desserts I’ve come up with so far. It’s got a little bit of everything…something smooth, creamy and decadent, something light and floral, and something sweet and crunchy. Plus a little salty kick to tie everything together. What’s not to love?
When I was younger, I would order crème brulee at every nice restaurant my parents would take us to. I remember my very first experience eating it. After breaking into the hard, caramelized sugar layer, I was pleased to find a beautifully rich custard underneath. I’ve been hooked ever since, and even though I now tend to try something different on a dessert menu, I still enjoy a classic crème brulee from time to time.
This is a slightly different version of a crème brulee, where the custard and hardened caramel are separate. I make a rich chocolate custard, very simple with just a touch of vanilla, and there’s no baking required. When the custard has cooled a bit, I let it set up in little glass dishes (you can use ramekins or any kind of small bowls as well). Since it’s spring and flowers are just about to bloom, I infuse some lavender extract into whipped cream for a calming floral essence right on top of the dish. I love the combination of chocolate and lavender, so this works really well. And since I’m not creating that caramel layer right on top of the custard, I make an almond brittle as a garnish. That nutty crunch plus a little sea salt that brings out all of the flavors is why I cannot get enough of this dish! Enjoy!
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 cup half & half
- 5 egg yolks
- ¼ cup sugar
- 5 oz semisweet chocolate, thinly shaved
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- sea salt, to garnish
- 3 oz slivered almonds
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 12 drops lavender extract
- In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream and half & half over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and keep whisking until thick and pale yellow. When the liquid in the saucepan just begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and temper the eggs by slowly drizzling half of the liquid into the mixing bowl, whisking continuously. When combined, pour the tempered egg yolk mixture into the saucepan with the rest of the liquid. Cook the custard over low heat until thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Place the chocolate in another mixing bowl and pour the custard over it. Whisk to incorporate. Stir in the vanilla extract. Place the bowl in a larger bowl full of ice. Stir often and allow the custard to cool slightly before pouring it into small “pots”, ramekins or any other type of dish. Refrigerate the custard for a couple of hours until completely set.
- Prepare a sheet pan with a piece of lightly oiled parchment paper. In a small saucepan combine the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Stop stirring while the mixture caramelizes. Cook until it is a light, amber color. Remove from the heat, add the almonds and quickly stir to coat. Pour the brittle out onto the prepared sheet pan. Spread evenly so that all of the almonds are in one, even layer. Allow to cool until hardened. Break the brittle into free-form pieces.
- Combine the cream and sugar in a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream until just before stiff peaks form. Add the vanilla and lavender at the end. Beat to incorporate the flavors until you fully reach stiff peaks (be careful not to overbeat).
- Serve each custard with a sprinkle of sea salt. Top with the lavender whipped cream and a piece of almond brittle.