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To heat up the night, why not try this spicy chocolate creme brulee for Valentine's Day or any other day of the year.

3 cups whipping cream
1 cinnamon stick
1 dried ancho chili* with seeds, stemmed, chopped
1/3 cup plus 6 teaspoons granulated white sugar
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Combine first 4 ingredients and 1/3 cup sugar in heavy large saucepan and bring to a slight boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Let the mixture steep for 3 minutes and strain.

2. Whisk egg yolks in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Divide custard among eight 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins.

3. Place cups in heavy large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake custards until almost set in center, about 35 minutes. Remove cups from water and cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

4. To serve, uncover ramekins; if condensation has collected on custards, place paper towel on surface to soak up moisture. Mix remaining 6 teaspoons sugar and ground cinnamon in small bowl.
Sprinkle each with about 1 teaspoon of the sugar mixture. Tilt and tap ramekin for even coverage.
5. Ignite the torch and caramelize the sugar. If you do not have a torch, preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over custards. Broil until sugar melts and caramelizes, watching carefully and turning often, about 2 minutes. Can be made 1 hour ahead. Refrigerate. Transfer to plates and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Posted on Jan 27, 2008

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