Crema Catalana: Chocolate Custard With Vanilla Berries
From The Latin Road Home, by Jose Garces8 serving(s)
For the custard:
1 cup cold whole milk
3 1/2 teaspoons unflavored granulated gelatin
1 1/2 pounds good-quality dark chocolate, such as Valrhona or Scharffen Berger, grated (3 cups)
2 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 cup granulated sugar
18 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
For the vanilla-macerated berries:
1 Tahitian vanilla bean
2 cups water
2 cups granulated sugar
5 cups mixed seasonal berries, such as strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries
For the brulee procedure:
Raw sugar (such as Demeraro, sanding, or raw cane sugar), for sprinkling
Lemon zest, for garnish
1. To make the custard, combine the milk and gelatin, and let sit for 10 minutes or until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
2. Set a double boiler over medium heat with 2 inches of water in the bottom, and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, place the chocolate in the top of the double boiler, and stir to melt the chocolate, taking care not to let it scorch.
3. Combine the cream and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, 3 to 5 minutes. Put the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl. Pour half of the hot cream mixture in a steady stream into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Add the tempered yolks back to the cream mixture in the saucepan, and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the custard thickens to the point of coating the back of a spoon. Remove the custard from the heat. Add the gelatin mixture and melted chocolate, and mix well to incorporate them. Stir in salt.
4. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve, and pour it into eight shallow 6-ounce custard cups. Allow the custard to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days, covered tightly with plastic wrap to keep the tops from drying out and to prevent refrigerator smells from permeating the custards.
5. To make the vanilla macerating syrup, split the vanilla bean lengthwise, and combine it in a saucepan with the water and granulated sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and allow it to cool to room temperature. Discard the vanilla bean, and measure out 1/4 cup of the syrup, storing the remainder for another use. (It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.)
6. When you are ready to serve the custards, macerate the fruit: Combine the berries in a bowl with the 1/2 cup vanilla simple syrup; they can be left to soak at room temperature for up to 15 minutes.
7. To caramelize the chilled custards, just before serving, coat the tops with the raw sugar, gently tipping off any excess: it should be a fine, thin layer of sugar. Use a culinary or creme brulee torch to caramelize the sugar evenly across the top of each custard. This should take about 1 minute per custard, but may happen more quickly. Be watchful and use caution.
8. Garnish the custards with berries and lemon zest and serve immediately.
Per serving: 1,065 calories, 16 grams protein, 141 grams carbohydrates, 128 grams sugar, 51 grams fat, 546 milligrams cholesterol, 187 milligrams sodium, 7 grams dietary fiber.