Chocolate Crème Brûlée

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Chocolate Crème Brulee is pretty darn close to a perfect dessert. The contrast of the creamy custard with the crackly sugar topping makes it both sophisticated and irresistibly delicious.

Overhead of chocolate creme brulee in white ramekins.

It might seem intimidating to make but don’t be fooled – it’s an easy-to-make dessert that uses standard ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

While it is hard to imagine improving upon the original Crème Brulee recipe, for those who believe chocolate makes everything better, you’re welcome. Enjoy!

This Chocolate Crème Brulee recipe combines two Valentine’s Day essentials – chocolate and dessert. While it is the perfect way to show your Valentine your love, you can serve this any time of the year. With a few simple tips, this is a dessert that expert bakers love, and new bakers can master with ease.

Chocolate Crème Brulee, like my chocolate lava cake, will bring a touch of sophistication to your menu and will elevate even the simplest of dinners.

Why This Recipe Works

The magic of this easy Crème Brulee is that it is a simple recipe that produces an elegant and delicious dessert. However, there are a few tricks I’ve found to make it even more foolproof.

  • This recipe uses ground espresso powder which enhances and brings out the the chocolate flavor.
  • This method calls for straining the custard to remove any air bubbles which makes for a smoother top and a more evenly caramelized crunchy top.
  • The custard, once poured into individual ramekins, is then put in a water bath so they cook evenly throughout which ensures the Chocolate Crème Brulee is smooth and creamy.

What You’ll Need


  • Milk & Cream: For the creamy rich custard. If you prefer, you can leave out the milk and use 2 cups of half and half or heavy cream instead.
  • Espresso Powder: Instant espresso powder adds depth and enhances the chocolate flavor. It is sold in the coffee aisle of most grocery stores or online – but note, it’s not the same thing as ground espresso beans.
  • Unsweetened Cocoa Powder & Semisweet Chocolate: Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate.
    • I recommend using pure baking chocolate, not chocolate chips.
  • Light Brown Sugar and Granulated Sugar: This adds sweetness to the custard and creates the crackly caramelized top that this dessert is known for.
  • Egg Yolks: These will be the base of the thick and creamy custard

Recommended tools

  • Ramekins: These petite ramekins hold individual servings of the crème brûlée.
  • Torch: You’ll need a kitchen torch to caramelize the sugar on the tops of the custards. While the torch works better, you can use your oven broiler instead.
  • Sieve: Pouring the custard through a fine mesh sieve or strainer will get rid of the air bubbles and make for a smoother custard top.
Spoon cracking chocolate creme brulee.

How to Make Chocolate Crème Brûlée

Chocolate Crème Brulee involves making a sweet, chocolaty custard, cooking it in a water bath, refrigerating it, and then caramelizing sugar to create a candy-like crackly top.

  1. Make the custard by heating the milk in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate to the cream mixture. Stir until melted melt then mix in the espresso powder and remove from heat.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar separately in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix the chocolate cream into the egg mixture. slowly, whisking constantly.
  1. Strain the mixture through a sieve or mesh strainer into a large measuring cup.
  2. Put ramekins into a roasting pan. Pour strained custard into the ramekins and place the baking pan into the oven.
  3. Add hot water to the baking pan – enough so that the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
  1. Cook for 25 – 30 minutes, checking to see that the custard is set.
  2. Take ramekins out of water bath, cover each with plastic wrap and put in refridgerator for at least 4 hours, or for up to a few days if making in advance.
  3. Immediately before serving, sprinkle with about two teaspoons of the granulated sugar and broil or torch until browned and crispy.
Spoon in chocolate creme brulee.

Tips For Success

  • It’s important to slowly pour the hot cream into the eggs. To make this easier, you can use a ladle and add 1 spoonful at a time while whisking. If you go too fast the eggs may scramble.
  • How do I know when it is done? Timing can be tricky and will vary depending on the type of ramekin you use. I used shallow ramekins and they took about 25 minutes to bake. The custard is done when it jiggles uniformly from edge to edge when shaken gently. You can also test with a fingertip – press it lightly in the center and the custard should spring back will leaving your fingertip clean.
  • Is the water bath necessary? Using the water bath will help make sure it cooks evenly and that the tops won’t crack.
  • Make sure the water for the water bath is hot when you pour it into the baking pan. Using a tea kettle works well and makes it easier to pour into the pan. Take extra care to make sure you don’t get water into the custard when you fill the pan for the water bath, as it will ruin it.
  • Try to spread the granulated sugar in a thin, even layer across the top of the custard, so that it crisps up evenly, especially if broiling rather than torching.

Recipe FAQs

Can I substitute milk or heavy cream?

You can use 2 cups of half and half instead of one cup of milk and one cup of heavy cream, as it is basically the same thing. You can also use two cups of heavy cream and omit the milk for an even richer custard.

What is Espresso powder?

Espresso powder (available near Instant Coffee in your grocery store or linked here: Espresso Powder) is made from roasted dark coffee beans that have been ground, brewed, dried, and then ground again into a very fine powder.

Make sure you use espresso powder rather than just ground espresso beans, which won’t dissolve in the hot cream and will make the custard bitter rather than add depth to the chocolate.

How to serve chocolate Crème Brulee?

This is beautiful all on its own, but you can also garnish it with fresh berries or a sprig of mint.

Storage & Freezing

This recipe is great because it can be made ahead and the caramelized topping can be made right before serving. While the custard requires 4 hours of cooling time in the refrigerator, if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap you can make it 2-3 days in advance.

If You Love Chocolate…

I enjoy chocolate desserts so much that I’ve included a few of my favorite chocolate desserts here:

Chocolate Crème Brûlée

5 from 3 votes
Chocolate Crème brûlée features a cool creamy chocolate custard topped with a caramelized sugar topping. It's so easy to make at home with just a handful of ingredients.
Jen Sobjack
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Chill Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 50 minutes
Serving Size 6


  • 1 cup (240 ml) milk
  • 1 cup (240 ml) heavy cream
  • ¼ teaspoon espresso powder
  • 5 tablespoons (15 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 ounces (85 g) semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • cup (100 g) light brown sugar
  • 5 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • granulated sugar for garnish


  • Preheat the oven to 325°F. Arrange six 4-ounce ramekins in a 2-inch deep baking dish. Set aside.
  • Add milk and cream to a medium saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until bubbles appear along the sides of the pan.
  • Whisk in espresso powder, cocoa powder, and chopped chocolate until fully melted and combined, about 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  • In a medium bowl, quickly whisk the sugar and egg yolks together until frothy.
  • Slowly pour the hot chocolate cream into the yolk mixture while whisking continuously until well combined.
  • Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher or large liquid measuring cup.
  • Pour the custard into the ramekins. Place the baking pan with filled ramekins inside the oven then carefully fill the pan with enough hot water to come ⅔ of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
  • Bake 25-30 minutes, just until set. Start checking the custard early. Bake times will vary depending on the thickness and depth of your ramekins. The custard should be set and not soupy with only a small area of jiggle in the center.
  • Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and allow the ramekins to cool in the water bath. Once the ramekins are cool enough to handle, remove them from the water, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving.
  • Just before serving, sprinkle the tops of each custard with about 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar, then immediately caramelize the sugar with a propane torch or broiler.


  • Milk & Cream: You can use half-in-half instead since it’s the same thing as using half of each. For a richer custard, you may wish to use 2 cups of heavy cream and omit the milk.
  • Semisweet chocolate: Use pure baking chocolate for the very best results. Chocolate chips don’t melt as smoothly and could compromise the integrity of the final product.
  • Water bath: The water bath will help the custard bake slowly and evenly. Take extra care not to get water in the custard. This will ruin it.
  • Baking the custard: Timing can be tricky and will vary depending on the type of ramekin you use. I used shallow ramekins and they took about 25 minutes to bake. The custard is done when it jiggles uniformly from edge to edge when shaken gently. You can also test with a fingertip – press it lightly in the center and the custard should spring back will leaving your fingertip clean.


Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 346kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 213mg | Sodium: 39mg | Potassium: 276mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 872IU | Vitamin C: 0.2mg | Calcium: 120mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients and brands you used in the recipe.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French

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Recipe Rating


  1. Can you omit the espresso powder? Just a personal think but I really dislike any coffee taste…

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Yes, you can omit the espresso powder.

  2. Could i use for pizza chocolate sauce this recipe
    Because i want make pizza desert.

    1. Jen Sobjack says:

      Unfortunately no. This is a baked custard. You will need a sauce recipe.