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Almond Chocolate Creme Brulées


      3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
      8 egg yolks
      1 cup granulated sugar
      1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, firmly packed
      1/2 teaspoon almond extract
      3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
      1/2 cup sliced almonds
      1/4 cup + 4 tsp brown sugar


    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat cream until bubbles start to form around  edges of pan. In large saucepan, whisk together egg yolks, granulated sugar and cocoa.  Slowly add hot cream to yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Place over medium heat and  cook, stirring constantly, 5 to 7 minutes, or until mixture thickens. Temperature should  be approximately 175-180 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Do not boil. Remove from heat  and add bittersweet chocolate; stir to blend.

    Divide mixture evenly among 8 ovenproof 1/2 cup custard or souffle dishes. Sprinkle  almonds over tops, dividing evenly. Cover and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight. One hour  before serving, place all dishes in freezer.

    Just before serving, preheat broiler. Sprinkle top of each creme brulee with 2  teaspoons brown sugar. Place dishes under broiler 5 to 6 inches from heat and broil 1-1/2  to 2 minutes, just to caramelize sugar. Watch carefully, since brown sugar burns easily.  Serve immediately. Any leftover creme brulee should be refrigerated and eaten within a  day.

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