Chef’s Table: Chris Hastings of Ovenbird

Chocolate Crème Brûlée
Makes 4
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom Pinch salt
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks Vanilla Shortbread, to serve (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 325°.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring cream, sugar, cardamom, and salt to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in chocolate until combined; immediately remove from heat.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks. Gradually add one-third hot cream mixture to egg yolks, whisking constantly. Return egg mixture to saucepan, and strain through a fine-mesh sieve.
  4. Place 4 (5-inch) cast-iron skillets in a 13x9-inch baking pan. Pour 5 ounces of mixture into each skillet. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of skillets.
  5. Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate pan, cover with foil, and bake for 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven. If crème brûlée is not completely set, bake 2 minutes more, uncovered. Let cool completely. Refrigerate for 6 hours.
  6. Sprinkle just enough sugar on top of crème brûlée to completely cover surface. Use a kitchen torch to caramelize top, holding flame 2 inches from skillet until sugar is completely caramelized. Serve with Vanilla Shortbread.

Vanilla Shortbread
Makes 12 servings
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved Pinch salt
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla bean seeds, and salt with a mixer at medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add flour, and beat until combined.
  3. Roll dough ¼ inch thick on prepared pan. Using a sharp knife, score dough into 2x½-inch cookies. Sprinkle dough with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.
  4. Bake until lightly browned, 12 to 15 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Score cookies again after baking.



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