The presentation is dazzling, yet the assembly is quite easy for this stellar sweet. A fluted chocolate dish holds an ice cream ball topped by an almond-coated caramel disk. Choose your favorite ice cream or make your own. Fresh berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries, make a delightful optional garnish.
6 tablespoons turbinado sugar
6 tablespoons almonds, toasted and finely chopped (see page xx)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 pints vanilla, coffee, or chocolate bean ice cream
Fresh raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries for garnish (optional)
1 Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a 4-inch-diameter bowl upside down on the foil and draw around it; repeat to make 6 circles. Brush with oil. Evenly sprinkle each circle with 1 tablespoon sugar, covering completely. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar by holding the torch about 4 inches from the surface of the foil and moving the custard to brown the sugar evenly. Or, preheat the broiler and place under the broiler about 4 inches from the heat source; watching carefully, broil until the sugar turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the nuts; let cool for a few minutes; then carefully peel the caramel disks from the foil and set aside.
2 Place 6 fluted cupcake papers in a muffin pan. In a stainless steel bowl, combine the chocolate and vegetable oil. Place over a saucepan with 1 inch of simmering water, stirring until it melts. With a small spatula, spread the chocolate in a thin coating on the bottom and sides of each paper. Place in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to set. Carefully peel the paper from the chocolate cups and refrigerate the cups until serving time.
3 To serve, place each chocolate cup on a dessert plate. Scoop the ice cream into 6 large round balls and place one in each of the chocolate cups. Scatter over a few berries, if desired. Arrange a caramel disk on top of each one at a slight angle. Serve at once.
Makes 6 servings
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Excerpted from Creme Brulee by Lou Seibert Pappas. Copyright 2008 by Chronicle Books. Excerpted with permission by Chronicle Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.