A few weeks ago, an email popped up in my inbox from the lovely ladies who run/organize the incredible Halifax Food Bloggers group I am so proud to be a part of. Anyhow, the aforementioned email mentioned a brown bag challenge, which my fellow Food Network junkies may know as a black box challenge. Essentially, we were being invited to invent a recipe using a bag of mystery ingredients. Very cool.
Also, very scary. Let’s be real: I’m a home cook, not a chef… so I was a little worried.
BUT, as soon as I saw the competition was being sponsored by Just Us! Coffee and East Coast Organic Milk, my heart gave a little flutter. See, I absolutely adore coffee (note: good, strong coffee, not weak-ass, coffee-flavoured milk & syrup), and frankly, a good latte just wouldn’t be possible without quality milk, right? So, with Just Us! & East Coast Organic Milk on-board, I was pretty sure competitors would be given top-notch ingredients.
I wasn’t wrong.
I signed up, picked up my bag from the Spring Garden Road location of Just Us! coffee, and gleefully tore open the bag right at the counter (what can I say? I’m impatient). I was very pleased with what I found inside: a bag of Tarrazu Honey Costa Rican coffee beans, bars of 70% cocoa dark chocolate and a bag of organic cane sugar from Just Us!, as well as a full carton of homogenized milk from East Coast Organic Milk.
After mulling over recipe ideas for a few days — do I try and get fancy, and pull out some of the toffee, field berry and wine flavours in the coffee? Or maybe go for something savoury, like a chili? — I gave my head a shake.
Seriously: why mess with a good thing? Coffee and chocolate are two of my favourite things in life.
So, I decided to keep things simple, and combined two of my favourite classic desserts: a decadent chocolate brownie and espresso crème brûlée. Thus, the Coffee Crème Brûlée Brownie Bomb (or CCBBB) was born:
These are a dangerously decadent dessert. But they also aren’t very difficult to make. You don’t even need to own a crème brûlée torch to make them (little-known baking fact: you can simply use the broiler in your oven, rather than buy a silly torch you probably will only use once or twice a year. Actually, if you try these, you may find yourself in need of one more often. So nevermind. Invest in a torch.)
Here’s how I made them:
Coffee Crème Brûlée Brownie Bomb (CCBBB)
- 1/4 cup espresso (I used Just Us! Tarrazu Honey beans, ground and brewed in my home espresso machine)
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup dark chocolate (Just Us! 70% cocoa dark chocolate, chopped)
- 3/4 cup sugar (Just Us! organic cane sugar)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate (Just Us! 70% cocoa dark chocolate, chopped into chunks)
Coffee Crème Brûlée:
- 2 cups homogenized milk (East Coast Organic Milk, 3.25%; you could use cream if you want it to be richer)
- 6 tbsp. ground coffee (I used Just Us! Tarrazu Honey beans, ground and brewed in my home espresso machine)
- 8 large egg yolks (I used Maritime Pride eggs)
- 1/2 cup sugar (Just Us! organic cane sugar)
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- Pour your milk into a French Press, stir in 6 tbsp. ground coffee, and let sit.
- Lightly butter and flour your ramekins & set them aside.
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Pull a fresh espresso shot and measure out 1/4 cup. If you don’t have an espresso maker, that’s okay: Just brew a small very strong batch of coffee and set aside 1/4 cup.
- In a small saucepan, combine your coffee, butter and chocolate and stir at a low heat until everything is melted and your mixture is smooth.
- Remove the pan from the stovetop and add your sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir until you have a smooth consistency.
- Add in your flour and salt, and mix gently until combined, then fold in chocolate chunks.
- Spoon approximately 3 tablespoons of batter into each of your ramekins, and place onto a parchment lined tray (the parchment just makes for easier clean-up if you spill any batter).
- Bake for 15 minutes, or until you insert a toothpick and it comes out clean.
- Set the brownies aside to cool, and reduce the heat in your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Coffee Crème Brûlée:
- Slowly press the coffee and milk you set aside earlier, and pour the milk into a small saucepan. Heat this coffee-infused milk over a low heat until it almost reaches a simmer.
- Mix your egg yolks and sugar together, and gradually add the hot coffee/milk, stirring until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup (with a lip for pouring: it makes it much easier).
- Add vanilla and stir gently.
- Once your brownies have cooled down a bit, place them in a water bath (line an oven-proof casserole dish with a cloth, place the ramekins inside, making sure they don’t touch one another, and pour hot water into the casserole dish until the reaches about 2/3 the way up the sides of the ramekin).
- Pour an even amount of the custard mixture into each ramekin, on top of the brownies (don’t be alarmed if the brownies pop up to the surface: this is what makes them brownie bombs!)
- Carefully place the pan in the oven and bake for approximately 35 minutes (bake until the custard has set, and the edges are just starting to bubble and brown). Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let them come to room temperature.
- Cover each with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 8 hours.
- When you’re ready to serve them, place your ramekins on a pan, dust them with a fine coat of sugar and sit them under the broiler for a few minutes (until the sugar melts — watch them carefully, or they might burn!) or use a crème brûlée torch.
- Enjoy! I recommend preparing these and serving them the same day (storing them in the fridge for long periods of time can cause the cake to become very dense). Serve with a glass of milk or even a latte… 🙂
Many thanks to the contest sponsors and my fellow Halifax Food Bloggers for allowing me to participate in this very fun challenge!