- Course: Dessert
- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Moderate
- Favorited: 0 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
Gianduia- the addictive Italian duo of hazelnuts and chocolate-is a winning flavor in this custard. A commercial hazelnut-cocoa paste emphasizes the nutty taste in chocolate cream, and toasted hazelnuts embellish the caramelized sugar topping.
Preheat the oven to 275°F. Finely chop the hazelnuts.
Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Place over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the hazelnut-cocoa paste and chocolate until blended; let cool to room temperature.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks until pale in color. Whisk in the 1/3 cup sugar until dissolved. Whisk in the chocolate cream.
Place six standard-size flan dishes in a baking pan. Divide the custard mixture among the dishes. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts. Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles slightly. Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool 10 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
When ready to serve, place the dishes on a baking sheet. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar over the top of each custard. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar (see Notes).
Toasting and Skinning Hazelnuts:
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place the nuts on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven, wrap in a tea towel, and rub to remove most of the papery skins.
Caramelizing the Sugar:
Different sugars produce slightly different results when caramelized. Brown sugar tends to melt the quickest, in less than a minute. Superfine and regular granulated sugar melt to form a thin, solid disk. Confectioners’ sugar should be sifted or pressed through a sieve to make an even layer so it will brown evenly. Raw sugars are slower to melt than finer sugars, but produce a nice, even browning.
Oven-Dried Brown Sugar:
Due to the moisture content of brown sugar, it is recommended to dry it before caramelizing. Spread light or dark brown sugar out on a baking sheet in a 1/8-inchlayer and bake in a preheated 275°F oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned a shade darker. Let cool, place in a small resealable plastic bag, and crush it thoroughly with a rolling pin or flat metal mallet to make fine crystals. Brown sugar treated in this manner has an excellent flavor when caramelized.
The amount of sugar you use to caramelize the top can vary with personal taste and the diameter of the dish. If you use flan dishes, which have a wider diameter, 1 tablespoon of sugar is a good amount for each dish. With a 6-ounce or smaller ramekin, which has a 4-inch or less diameter, about 2 teaspoons of sugar will cover the surface nicely.
When caramelizing the sugar topping of dessert cremes brulees under a broiler, you may prefer to place the containers in a pan and fill the pan with cold water and ice to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. This keeps the containers from overheating, and you can serve the desserts immediately (rather than refrigerating them briefly to cool).