I remember crème brulèe as a kid. Every once in a while, my mom and dad would take me to this one particular restaurant in Seattle, where you ordered the crème brulèe when you received your entrée because it took 30 minutes to prepare. It was served warm (arguably hot) and had this wonderful silky texture through and through. These days, we have become accustomed to premade crème brulèe that is cold, other than the last minute torching of the sugar top; Torched Goodness left me with the same disappointment. Is there no one who makes crème brulèe the way it was intended to be made anymore?
After trucking across town to seek out Torched Goodness, sitting through bumper to bumper traffic on the way to their location at A Chocolate Affair Festival in Glendale, AZ, walking several blocks, and maneuvering through the thousands of people in packed walkways, I was finally on my way. There were a few customers ahead of me in line and I already knew I was ordering one of each of their featured flavors for the day: Vanilla, Sea Salt Chocolate, White Chocolate Raspberry, and Chipotle Chocolate.
My plan of attack: Try each different flavor of crème brulèe in the order I thought would escalate from lightest to most powerful. First up, the tried and true classic: vanilla. It was pulled out of a refrigerator, sugar sprinkled on top and torched to order. The sugar was well torched, providing a candied crispiness against the crème brulee below (this held true for all of the flavors today). It was your average, run of the mill vanilla crème brulee. There was nothing that set this apart from the crème brulèe most of us have come to known.
Second up, the White Chocolate Raspberry crème brulèe. This one was torched slightly more than the vanilla and a few spots were approaching burned. Upon your first bite, this was one either you loved or you hated. In general, I am not a huge fan of raspberries, but enjoyed the burst of fruit flavor. My husband on the other hand, who loves raspberries, nearly spit his bite out. We suspect that they use a raspberry flavoring, as opposed to fresh raspberries (pureed with seeds removed). The one fact we could both agree on: it was bursting with raspberry flavor, but where was the supposed white chocolate? I even went so far as to take two spoons of relatively equal amounts, one with some of the white chocolate raspberry crème brulèe and one with the sea salt chocolate crème brulèe, and still found the chocolate to be completely overpowered by the raspberry.
Next in line for our tasting, Sea Salt Chocolate crème brulèe. The only difference during the making of this crème brulee is after the sugar had been dissolved and browned, a sprinkling of sea salt was added. The chocolate had a nice flavor, it was incredibly rich. The bite I took was balanced well with the sweetness of the chocolate crème brulèe against the saltiness addition. However, the bite my husband took was overloaded with salt and not balanced well at all.
Last, but not least was the one I was most excited about: Chipotle Chocolate Crème brulèe. During the holidays, my husband and I often make Aztec Fudge (chocolate fudge with ground cayenne pepper added in) and it is a huge hit. Well, this particular crème brulèe didn’t even come close to hitting the mark. The chocolate selection was wrong (I think they used the same chocolate base as for the Sea Salt Chocolate Crème brulèe) and did not compliment the additional flavors brought in by the chipotles. In fact, upon your initial taste your thought was “That tastes odd.” (but not in a particularly good way). Then a few seconds later you are hit with a burning sensation in your throat. I love spicy foods, I believe the hotter the better; when I say burning, I don’t mean you felt like your mouth was on fire from the heat or capsaicin, but rather it was truly burning. It felt like someone was holding a flame to your throat, scorching it. Bottom line, it was incredibly unpleasant and disappointing.