Sunday, April 7, 2013

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Chocolate Pots de Crème
Sometimes you just got to give the people what they want. Almost every holiday, I try to find some new and exciting recipe to try out on the folks that I care about most. I'll slave over a stove, and experiment weeks ahead of time. People will ooh and ahh over what I make, but inevitably comes the comment, "This is great... but boy, how about that time you made chocolate pots de crème!" Oh, pots de crème. You really are that delicious. It's a greatest hit of mine, and for good reason as few other desserts, especially when fruit is totally out of season in New England, will garner more praise. Creamy, deeply chocolaty, and presented in pretty little jars, the eyes light up around the room when they're rolled out to the dining table at Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas. So, I guess it's time I pass along my personal best as far as desserts go.
Bittersweet and semi-sweet
Pots de crème are not hard to make. As a note, before you begin, you'll need six oven safe receptacles - I love using little half pint jelly jars, leaves just enough room to add whipped cream at the end. Besides that, there's no special equipment required here. I first found the recipe on epicurious, which credits Cafe Tamayo in Saugerties, New York as the dessert's creator. Super easy, super impressive.

2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped
(Note: For the chocolate, I recommend using Ghirardelli, which melts away smoother than other brands I've tried)
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Whisking your chocolate
So there's no trick to all this. You just follow the recipe. Preheat your oven to 325, heat up the milk and whipping cream to boil. While the dairy is heating, you can whisk your egg yolks and sugar together in a big bowl. Dairy come to a boil? Turn off the heat, throw in all the chopped chocolate and whisk like the dickens until the whole mixture is nice and smooth and a consistent chocolate milk color. Add the chocolate milk to the bowl with the eggs and sugar and again whisk until smooth. You'll want to let this cool for about ten minutes, and you'll see foam rising to the surface, which you can skim off with a spoon.
Now, distribute the mixture equally into six of the little jelly jars, and place them in a large baking dish. Add hot water until the water comes up about half way up the sides of the jelly jars.
Ready for the oven
Cover all the jars individually tightly with tin foil. And you're ready for the oven.

The jars go in with the baking dish for 55 minutes. The centers of the pudding should jiggle just slightly when they're done. Remove the whole lot from the oven, and remove the jars from the water bath. Toss the tin foil, and place your custards into the fridge to cool. They're ready in about three hours. Prior to serving, we like to top with homemade whipped cream, and a little bit of chopped chocolate. Then we seal each jar with the tops, just like a pretty little package for presentation.
Ready for spoon
Happy spoon
Again, when you whip these little darlings out after dinner, there are oohs and ahhs to rival whatever the big show was earlier that day. They're creamy. They're deeply chocolaty and super smooth. They're rich and sweet, and generally the best chocolate pudding you'll ever have. You've been warned. The benchmark for best desserts ever lie in the recipe above, and I really hope you enjoy having to make it every single holiday until the end of time. I know I do. 

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