While Flag Day and Labor Day celebrate American culture and have a permanent place on our calendars, there's a handful of random but delicious little holidays.
July 27th is National Crème Brûlée Day a recognition of the very rich and very French dessert. Sometimes it's best just to go with it. Here's a recipe to blissfully enjoy what should be one of America's most widely anticipated holidays.
When making crème brûlée, I often rely on luck even when I follow recipes to the dot. For my batch, I merged various recipes (including Hominy Grill's chocolate pudding recipe), and the mad scientist approach works. This crème brûlée gets super thick and spicy due to the addition of dark chocolate and toasted chili peppers.
Dark Chocolate Chili Crème Brûlée
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups half and half
pinch of salt
2 dried chili peppers (you can buy these at Mexican tiendas or Plaza Fiesta)
3.5 oz. dark chocolate (Godiva makes a very good 72% cacao)
3-4 packages of raw sugar (the brown bags you can get from the counter at Starbucks work)
Directions: Pre-heat oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks together and add sugar. Stir until mixture takes on pale yellow color. Add a pinch of salt to the yolks.
Select two peppers and place them in a small skillet on medium heat. (For this avoid overtly dark peppers, they'll turn bitter). Prepare a bowl of hot water. Toast peppers for around 4 minutes, pressing down with a rubber spatula. After toasting, remove peppers and place into hot water for re-hydrating. Let peppers soak in water for 15 minutes. Remove from water and cut off stem, removing the seeds.
Pour 2 cups half and half into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Add peppers to milk and extract juices from the peppers by pressing them against saucepan's side with spatula.
Break bits of dark chocolate and gradually add them to the cream, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Once chocolate is completely added, remove milk from heat and allow to cool.
Gradually add egg solution to melted chocolate (If you do it too quickly, the egg will cook). Refrigerate mixture until cool.
Fill 4 ramekins (or coffee cups) with chocolate mixture. Fill about 2/3 for each cup. Place cups into a baking dish and fill halfway with hot water. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake until sides are set with jiggly centers, about 35 minutes.
Remove dish from oven and refrigerate.
To serve, top each creme with raw sugar and use a small torch to caramelize sugar. Serve immediately