But the thing about custards, and creme brûlée in particular, is that they’re a plan-ahead kind of thing. I can whip an emulsified cream without blinking an eye, but we’re all going to have to wait overnight for it to chill before we can dig into its satiny depths. Custards are not the thing for spontaneous romantic gestures.
That’s why I was so intrigued by the yogurt brûlée recipe from my friend Tina Ruggiero’s The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook. Thick Greek yogurt replacing high-maintenance custard? No overnight chill time? Tina might be a registered dietitian, but she’s one of the few nutrition experts I trust for true-to-taste recipes. The gal’s not afraid of a little sugar and chocolate—or cheese—to keep the palate entertained while sneaking in the good nutrients.
Well, Dan saw me making the brûlées, so I fudged half the surprise there. But what he didn’t know was that hidden beneath the vanilla-flecked yogurt was a hidden layer of dark chocolate ganache spiked with maple syrup. Tina makes her ganache with buttermilk, not heavy cream, and I’m thrilled to see how well it sets up. (Feel free to substitute 2 percent milk, or use this ganache as an excuse to get rid of the rest of that buttermilk carton in the back of your fridge—wink, wink.)
While the texture is softer than your egg-filled creme brûlée, the smooth and tangy filling is a refreshing—and still happily sweet—counterpart to the rich and slightly bitter chocolate beneath. A few spoonfuls of spiced cranberries or fresh berries lend an appropriately festive punch of color to the dessert, but neither Dan nor I would say no to a drizzle of fresh caramel sauce. Or that aforementioned salted caramel ice cream.
Yogurt Creme Brûlée
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
Adapted from The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook by Tina Ruggiero, MS, RD
Makes 4 servings
4 4- to 6-oz. oven-safe ceramic ramekins
- 1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk or reduced-fat milk
- 1 tablespoon Grade A dark maple syrup
- 1 lb. (16 oz.) vanilla-flavored nonfat Greek yogurt
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or demerara sugar
fresh berries for serving (optional)
Make the ganache:
Place the chocolate, buttermilk, and maple syrup in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over low heat just until the chocolate is melted.
Spread a thin layer of ganache across the bottom of each ramekin.
Make the yogurt custard:
Stir the yogurt, sugar, and vanilla paste together in a medium mixing bowl and divide evenly between the 4 ramekins, smoothing the top of each.
(If making in advance, refrigerate at this stage for up to 24 hours.)
Sprinkle an even layer of turbinado sugar across the top of each ramekin. Caramelize the sugar by using a kitchen torch or by placing the ramekins under the oven broiler and heating the sugar until a bubbling and bronzed layer of hard caramel forms.
Cool the ramekins on a wire rack for 10 minutes to let the sugar harden. Serve with fresh berries, if desired.