Stout-and-chocolate-infused custard topped with a layer of crackly sugar—now that’s a dessert worthy of a celebration. Crème brûlée can’t get any better, right? Oh, yeah, it can! Here, chocolate and stout give the custard an undeniable flavour boost. The best part: This restaurant-style dish couldn’t be easier to make at home. It’s the perfect reason to get out that little torch kicking around in your gadget drawer. (But don’t worry if you don’t have one—a regular oven broiler works just fine, too.)
85 g semisweet chocolate, chopped (scant 2/3 cup/160 mL)
6 egg yolks
Ingredients for the Topping
6 tbsp (90 mL) granulated sugar, divided
Directions for the Custard
Custard: Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium saucepan, combine cream, stout, 3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar and vanilla. Warm over medium-low heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved and cream just starts to simmer. Remove from heat immediately and whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk egg yolks with remaining 3 tbsp (45 mL) sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is pale and slightly thickened. Whisking constantly to keep egg mixture from scrambling, slowly add about 1/2 cup (125 mL) of the cream mixture. Whisk until smooth and well blended. Whisking constantly, add remaining
cream in a slow, thin, steady stream until smooth and well blended.
Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into 6 ramekins (each will contain a scant 1/2 cup/125 mL custard). Arrange ramekins in a roasting pan; fill pan with enough very hot (but not boiling) water to reach halfway up sides of ramekins. Bake in preheated oven until custards are just set but centres are still slightly wobbly, about 45 minutes.
Let ramekins stand in pan on a cooling rack until cool enough to handle, about 20 minutes. Transfer ramekins to a baking sheet and cover with plastic or beeswax wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and fully set, 6 hours or overnight.
Directions for the Topping
Remove ramekins from refrigerator 20 minutes before serving. Pat ramekins dry. Sprinkle 1 tbsp (15 mL) sugar over each, gently shaking to distribute evenly over surface. Holding a kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches away from surface, melt and caramelize sugar, moving torch in concentric circles around ramekin and tilting as sugar starts to brown to distribute evenly. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.
You can use fresh or flat stout. When you’re measuring it, the foamy head doesn’t count—make sure the liquid comes up to the line on the cup. If you’re using freshly opened beer, pour it into the measuring cup, give it a chance to settle, and then scoop away the layer of bubbles and top it up to the correct line.
No kitchen torch? No problem. Place oven rack in the highest position. Place cold ramekins (fresh from the fridge) on a baking sheet and top with sugar as directed in step 5. Place baking sheet on rack in oven and turn broiler to high. Broil, rotating baking sheet every 1 to 2 minutes, until sugar is golden brown and bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes total. Serve immediately or refrigerate again for up to 1 hour before serving.