Recipe: Ruth Pretty’s Chocolate Caramel Custards

These pretty little custards are made with dark chocolate and a touch of cinnamon. 

Recipe: Ruth Pretty  Photo and styling: Carolyn Robertson

You’ll need six ovenproof ramekins (each large enough for at least 165ml). Enjoy these custards with a small glass of kahlua poured over ice.

Serves 6


1⅓ cup sugar
½ cup water
2 cups milk
1 cinnamon quill
125g dark (70%) chocolate, finely chopped
4 eggs
1 tablespoon kahlua
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond essence (be extremely careful with this measurement)
¼ of fresh pineapple, peeled and finely chopped


Heat the oven to 165°C. Set a small, heavy-based pot over low heat. Pour in 1 cup of the sugar and the water, stirring with a metal spoon until it is just dissolved.

Increase the heat to medium. Without stirring, cook until bubbles begin to form around the edges of the pot, followed by bubbles all over the surface. Then gently but frequently swirl the pot over the heat until the caramel is an even deep amber colour.

Working quickly and carefully, evenly divide the caramel among the six ramekins. Tilt and turn dishes to distribute the caramel on the base of the dish and slightly up the sides. Place the dishes in a deep roasting tray.

Put milk and the cinnamon quill in a pot over medium heat and bring to just under boiling. Remove the cinnamon quill. Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour hot milk over it. Stir to melt chocolate and slightly cool.

Gently whisk together the eggs, remaining ⅓ cup sugar, kahlua, vanilla extract and almond essence until just combined (avoid making any froth). Pour the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk lightly, then strain through a fine sieve into a large jug.

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Pour the chocolate custard mixture into the caramel-lined dishes and transfer the roasting dish to the oven. Pour warm water into the roasting tray to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the dishes. Loosely cover with a sheet of aluminium foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the custard has barely set. It should still wobble when the dish is moved from side to side.

Remove from the oven and take custards out of the water bath and leave to cool. Chill until completely cold or overnight. To serve, invert a serving plate on the top of each dish and unmould custard with caramel. Scrape out any remaining caramel onto the custard.

Alternatively, serve in the dishes for guests to discover the liquid caramel hidden underneath. Accompany custards with chopped pineapple.

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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