Room for Dessert: Chocolate Caramel Crème Brûlée

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From patisserie chef Will Goldfarb’s book ‘Room for Dessert’ published by PhaidonAn alumni of elBulli, the book has a foreword by Albert Adrià. ‘Will is a very special guy’, he writes, ‘one of those people that’s really needed in our world; passionate about his work and indeed, about everything that surrounds him.’ In his book ‘you will see the creation of concepts, myriad ways of understanding pastry and of course a lot of technique’.

‘I love crème brûlée and always have one on the menu’, says Will Goldfarb. ‘This recipe is particularly good because it contains raw cacao, which means that it is dense and smooth even if slightly undercooked. That’s key to what we do, to have classic recipes that are delicious and work well and don’t require an explanation to understand—it’s a dessert. But there is an explanation if you want one… It’s easier to make and not screw up than a regular crème brûlée for two reasons: the mixture is thicker so it doesn’t wobble and splash the sides of the dish when you put in the oven; and the ganache texture is still great even if medium-rare, which is not the case of an egg custard. You can order cocoa paste from an online supplier, or use the same amount of smooth, high-quality 100 percent chocolate. For extra flavour, sprinkle a little bit of house bitters and some sea salt flakes on top of the ramekins before serving them.’

Makes 6 (150g) servings


330g cream
140g sugar, plus extra to serve
1 vanilla bean (pod)
100g cocoa paste, chopped finely
240g milk
80g egg yolks


1. Heat the cream in a pan until it boils.

2. Prepare a dry caramel by heating the sugar in a heavy-based pan over a high heat. Just before it burns—it should be reddish brown in colour, and with the medium foam subsiding—add the vanilla and deglaze with the cream. When all the caramel is dissolved, and the liquid has returned to a boil, add the cocoa paste and stir to emulsify.

3. Whisk the milk lightly with the egg yolks. Away from the heat, add this mixture to the caramel mixture. Stir well, strain, and allow to cool to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator overnight to set. The following day, heat the oven to 160C/310F/Gas Mark 2½ and divide the caramel among 6 ramekins. Place in a roasting tin and pour in water to reach halfway up the sides. Cover with tin foil and bake for 10-15 minutes. When shiny and elastic, custards are ready.

4. To serve, scatter with sugar and cook with a blowtorch until crisp and golden.


You’ll find Room for Dessert for sale at the Phaidon Book Store and at Amazon and other good book shops.

Recipe Note
Patisserie chefs are precise. They measure everything. If the recipe says you need 80g of egg yolks, then weigh the egg yolks, because eggs are different weights (chickens don’t lay eggs to order). If you aren’t exact the recipe may not work as planned.



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