Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulée for #SundaySupper Valentine's Day Wine Pairing #GalloFamily

Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulée is the perfect dessert to share with your Valentine. It's thick and creamy with a crunchy sugar topping that will make your heart swoon and your pulse race.

When I think of a romantic Valentine's dessert, I can't help but think of Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulee that been lovingly prepared and paired with Gallo Family Vineyard's  Sweet Red Wine.

Imagine sitting on a blanket by a roaring fire with the love light flickering. You both take your wine glasses, intertwine your arms, and make a toast to what you love about each other. You sip. You savor. And then you both take your spoons and crack into the sugary glass-like coating that covers the silkiest and smooth chocolate espresso creme brulee you've ever tasted. You feed each other. One spoonful, two spoonfuls. One swoon. Two swoons. The light hint of espresso in the creamy creme brulee matches perfectly with the richness of the chocolate. You both sip the sweet red wine. One sip. Two sips. The sweet red Gallo wine is the kiss on your lips, at the end of the night you've dreamt about all day long!

Ahhhhhh. Now this is what Valentine’s Day is supposed to feel like. J

Throughout the years, my husband and I have never been big on the "traditional" Valentine's Day celebrations. I think I can count on one hand the times we went out to celebrate at a restaurant, and those days were before we had kids. While we have both always enjoyed going out to eat a good meal at a restaurant, there always seems to be too much pressure (not to mention the crowds) on Valentine's day itself.

It's that reason alone that we've always celebrated at home with an extravagant home cooked meal and a luscious dessert. When our kids were little, dinner and desserts were always tailored to their tastes and preferences. A box of heart chocolates, a little Valentine themed toy or a mylar balloon always garnished their dinner plates and the dinner table. The memories I have of those times are priceless. If I could step back in time to those days, I would do it in a heartbeat.

These days our kids are grown, and my husband and I get to do more extravagant Valentine's dinners. Things like lobster, beef tenderloin, and filet mignon steaks have all graced our Valentine's dinner table. Along with fabulous, luscious desserts, like Chocolate Espresso Creme Brulee to end our meal, and Gallo's sweet red wine to get things started *wink, wink*

If you've never made creme brulée before, please don't be intimidated by it. It's super simple to make, and the  crunchy sugar coating on top can be made by placing the cooked creme brulée under the broiler until the sugar caramelizes and melts. Or, you can use a handy dandy kitchen blow torch (like I did) that only adds to the fun and excitement of this memorable dessert. Either way, I urge you to make this recipe and share it with someone you love this Valentine's Day!

Serves:  4            Prep and Bake Time:  90 minutes

2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 egg yolks (reserve the whites for another use)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 additional tablespoons granulated sugar (to caramelize the tops)

-Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
-In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and espresso powder. Bring to a simmer, shicking to dissolve the espresso powder. Remove from heat.
-Add the chopped chocolate to the hot cream and whisk until smooth and melted.
-In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, 3 tablespoons sugar and vanilla until well blended.
-Stir 3 tablespoons of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture (to temper the eggs so they don't scramble) and then pour the remaining cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine.
-Divide the creme bruée mixtue evenly amont 4 ramekins or custard cups. Place the cups into a large oven proof dish and fill the dish with boiling hot water (also known as a bain marie) that reaches about half way up the ramekins. Being careful not to pour any of the the hot water into the remekins themselves.
-Bake the creme brulé in a preheated oven until the egfes are set but the center is still a little loose (approximately 50 minutes).
-Carefully remove the cups from the water bath and allow the custard to cool slightly.
-Meanwhile, top each creme brulée with 1 tablespoon sugar and place them under the broiler to caramealize or use a kitchen blowtorch to caramelize the sugar. Cool slightly before serving.
-These custerds can be served warm or chilled. Chill for no longer than two days in the refrigerator or the sugar topping will become soft.

Heat the heavy cream and espresso powder in a saucepan, whisking to combine. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla. Temper the egg yolk mixture by adding 3 tablespoons of the hot cream into the egg yolks. Whisk to combine.

Pour the remaining hot cream mixture into the egg mixture. If desired, pour the custard mixture into something with a pour spout to make it easier to fill the custard cups. Fill 4 custard cups (ramekins) with the custard mixture. Place the ramekins into a large oven proof pan and fill the pan half way full with boiling water making sure not to get any water into the ramekins.

Carefully place the pan into a preheated 300 degree oven and bake until the outer edges of the custards are set but the inside is still slightly loose.

Cool slightly and then sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar evenly over each custard. Place the creme Brulée under the broiler to caramelize or use a small kitchen blow torch to melt and caramelize the sugar. Cool slightly and serve warm or cool.

If you've not yet tried Gallo's Sweet Red Wine and are wondering how it tastes, it's bursting with flavors of red fruit, black cherry and raspberry jam. Coupled with a fresh, fruity acidity and followed with a velvety soft finish this wine is easy to enjoy, especially chilled. The soft dark berries and lush sweetness match perfectly with smoked meats and barbecue sauce, as well as dessert.

Please note: Compensation for this post was provided by Gallo Family Vineyards via Sunday Supper, LLC. The opinions expressed herein are completely my own and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Gallo Family Vineyards. And, as always, please remember to drink responsibly!

Learn more about Gallo Family Vineyard's Riesling and Sweet Red wines, and while your there make sure to visit their wine blog and store locator for information on where you can purchase each variety. For further information about Gallo Family Vineyards, I urge you to follow them on Twitter,  FacebookInstagram and YouTube.

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On behalf of Gallo's family and mine, Happy Valentine's Day!
Until we eat again,

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