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Creme Brulee with Piment d'Espelette

1/2 cup whole milk
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon Piment d'Espelette
2 teaspoons Vanilla Paste
1 pinch salt 6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup Bourbon Smoked Sugar
Pinch of Piment d'Espelette


1.  Place an oven rack slightly lower than center in oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
2.  Whisk milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, Espelette, vanilla paste and salt in a saucepan over medium heat until the mixture just reaches a boil; stir constantly to blend chili into the custard; remove from heat and set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.
3.  Whisk egg yolks in a bowl for a few strokes; whisk in hot cream mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time at first, whisking thoroughly before adding the next amount. As the yolk mixture becomes warmer, increase the amount of cream mixture you whisk in to about 1/4 cup at a time.
4.  Pour custard mix in 6 individual ramekins. Set the ramekins into a roasting pan and pour in enough hot water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
5.  Bake in the preheated oven until the desserts are softly set, 40 to 45 minutes. Remove the roasting pan and let the desserts cool in the water bath to room temperature. Chill in refrigerator at least 2 hours. Desserts will hold for 2 to 3 days in refrigerator before topping with sugar.
6.  Sprinkle about 1/2 tablespoon of sugar evenly over the top of each dessert Add a pinch of Espelette chili for color and flavor. Use a kitchen torch to lightly brown and caramelize the sugar until melted, about 1 minute. Move the torch quickly to avoid burning. Let caramelized topping cool for about 10 minutes, then serve. 

Taste the mixture after step 3 to check if you have enough chili for a subtle background flavor.
Piment d'Espelette has great flavor with heat.  Be careful to not over spice the dessert.
If you do not have a culinary torch, carefully watch while heating under the broiler until sugar becomes melted and carmalized but NOT burned!