October 31, 2011

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Last night I caught my son methodically transferring the Halloween candy I'd bought for trick-or-treaters into his own trick-or-treat bag. He was working so quietly and diligently that I had to smile. And I couldn't really blame him. Who can look at all those bags of chocolate without wanting some for themselves?

But the truth is that Halloween candy is usually a disappointment. Milk chocolate, the stuff of most kid-friendly candy bars, doesn't really satisfy a deep chocolate craving. 

So leave the Halloween stash to your kids. And make yourself a more grownup treat. 

These chocolate pots de crème are chocolate nirvana. The chocolate is rich, intense, and dark. If you’re happy nibbling a Hershey bar, this dessert may not be for you. But if you’re serious about the percentage of cocoa in your chocolate, take a closer look.

These custards are definitely a splurge, rich with cream and eggs. But they're worth it.

Be sure to use good quality chocolate when you make these. Cooking with chocolate is like cooking with wine: for this dessert, choose a chocolate you’d happily eat on its own. I used Valrhona bittersweet chocolate, 71% cocoa.

And remember -- the best way to deal with your kid's sugar high is to be on one of your own!  ;-)

Happy Halloween!

Chocolate is always a good place to start. Place yours on a cutting board and chop it up. A serrated or Santoku knife works well for this task.

Whisk together your eggs yolks and sugar in a large bowl.

Bring the milk and cream to a simmer in a saucepan. As soon as it reaches a simmer, turn off the heat.

Add the chocolate, instant coffee and vanilla extract. (The coffee and vanilla weren't in the original recipe but adding a little of both gives the chocolate a more complex flavor.) 

Whisk until the chocolate is completely melted.

Slowly add the chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Add just a little of the chocolate mixture at first. If you add too much of the hot chocolate mixture to the eggs right away, you'll end up with scrambled eggs.

Continue until you've combined all of the chocolate into the eggs.

Pour the mixture through a strainer, into another bowl or large measuring cup.

Set up your ramekins in a large baking pan. Equally divide the custard mixture into the ramekins. Then cover each ramekin with aluminum foil.

Place the baking pan in the oven. Then pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until the custards are mostly set but still jiggle a bit in the middle.

Cool the custards on a cooling rack. Then transfer them to the fridge and chill until cold.

Top with whipped cream and serve!

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Recipe from Bon Appetit

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
5 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used Valrhona 71%)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp instant coffee powder
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

1.      Preheat oven to 325°F.

2.      Bring cream and milk just to simmer in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, vanilla extract, and coffee powder; whisk until melted and smooth.

3.      Whisk yolks and sugar in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in hot chocolate mixture. Strain mixture into another bowl. Cool 10 minutes, skimming any foam from surface.

4.      Divide custard mixture among eight 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Cover each with foil. Place cups in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to pan to come halfway up sides of cups.

5.      Bake until custards are set but centers still move slightly when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove from water. Remove foil. Chill custards until cold, about 3 hours or overnight.

6.      Top with whipped cream and serve.

Note: You can make these custards 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

Makes 8 servings

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