Every time I come back to this blog after a while, I make my excuses and tell myself that I'll be more active, going forward. And yet, over the past few months, every time I've said that, there's been activity for 2-3 weeks and then complete radio silence. And it happened again, over the whole Summer.
Anyone who knows me a teeny bit knows how I simply stop functioning during the Summer. And this time, it was as if the Summer had gotten personal with me. It seemed longer, more intense and more torturous that I've ever felt it. Every year I struggle and yet, this year it was a new high. Am sure, the rest of you in India felt it too. Add to that, the Internet connection at home went kaput. Something about 'ongoing upgradation of the network' that meant no Internet or Internet speeds from the pre-Jurassic era, which is worse than having no Internet. Trust me!
So, between an endless Summer and a non-existent Internet connection, I've been locked out of the kitchen and this blog. And honestly, one made the other worse. Summer would have been more bearable if I didn't have to rely on my phone for all my digital work and likewise, the problem with the Internet would have been manageable in any other season or so I tell myself. And of course, as these things work out, both issues shall get resolved in the same week. I told you.. someone's been making it personal with me!
Easing back into normal programming on this blog with a chocolate creme caramel that I made sometime during the Summer. That moment when its too hot to go outside and you crave for something sweet and realise that your refrigerator has nothing to offer, you turn to the three ingredients that are always available in your pantry and make some creme caramel. And because, chocolate always makes everything better, you make chocolate creme caramel.
Always make a creme caramel a day before, it helps it set beautifully and lets the caramel leach into the custard. Creme caramels are fairly simple and if I could make it in the Summer, anyone can make it anytime.
And there's something to be said about that dark, bitter caramel layer that makes this dessert. And this is such a forgiving dessert, even if a little caramel chips off when you unmould it from the ramekins, as the photographs testify.
So, here's the question, is the chocolate version better than the original. You know how I always say, chocolate makes everything better but in this case, I'd cast my vote with the simplicity and honesty of a simple creme caramel with no-frills. There's nothing wrong with the chocolate version, but there's a reason why the original is a classic. It's honest, unpretentious and comforting and sometimes, that what you crave and want, which in my case, is more often than not.
I have brilliant recipe on the blog for the original, if you want to give it a shot. But, then that's my personal opinion and who's to say, which one you might prefer.
It's not been an easy Summer at all.. but we've survived it. So, now that we can all breathe again, do tell me how have you been?? Raising a cheer to the monsoons, with love..xx!!
Chocolate Creme Caramel
Serves 4 medium ramekins or 2 large ramekins. Source: Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking Chez Moi'
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cup (300 mls) whole milk
- 60 gms dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 150°C. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and warm them in the oven so that the ramekins are warm when you pour in the caramel. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.
- Reserve 2 tablespoons of the sugar and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the bottom of a small skillet or saucepan and put the pan over medium-high heat. When you see the sugar start to melt around the edges, begin stirring it in small circles, making your way around the edges and then going deeper into the center of the pan, until all the sugar is melted, blended, bubbling and, most important, a medium amber color; stay with the caramel, because the color changes in seconds. As soon as it's the right color, pull the pan from the heat and, being very, very careful (caramel is ferociously hot and sticky), divide it among the ramekins. Hold the ramekins by their tops and swirl to coat the bottoms with caramel. You'll never get the caramel perfectly even, and that will never matter. Place the ramekins in the roasting pan.
- Put the milk and the reserved 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
- Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot milk over it. Let stand for about 5 minutes to melt.
- Meanwhile, put the eggs in a medium bowl and whisk them for about 1 minute; they'll pale a bit. Using a heatproof spatula, stir the chocolate and milk together until smooth. Then, stirring the eggs without stopping, gradually pour the hot chocolate milk over the eggs and stir until blended. You'll have bubbles on top of the creme, don't worry: You're going to turn the custards over and no one will ever see the bottoms.
- Divide the custard among the ramekins. Pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Carefully slide the pan into the oven.
- Bake the custards for 35 to 45 minutes, or until they are firm around the edges and just jiggly in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully place the ramekins on a cooling rack. Leave the ramekins at room temperature for about 20 minutes, then transfer them to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 4 hours, or until they are thoroughly cold, before serving. (You can make these 1 day ahead; cover and keep refrigerated.)
- When you're ready to serve, run a table knife around the edges of the ramekins, then turn the custards over onto small plates with raised rims. You might have to shake the ramekins a little or tap them gently against the plate to cajole the custards to come out, but fear not -- they won't stick.
- If you are looking for a simple creme caramel recipe, follow this link.