Today is the first day back to school for the wee ones. So the first thing I did after the bus picked them up (21 minutes late)? I made chocolate pots de creme. No, this isn’t because I’m going to spoil myself – although the egg white omelet with smoked salmon and goat cheese that I’m going to make myself for lunch shortly might make you think otherwise – but because a friend has a birthday tomorrow.
And she’s never had pots de creme before.
Well, ok, really this came about because when I was at her house on Sunday, she loaded me down with organic milk and cream from her neighbor that was about to go bad, and she wasn’t going to use it. Her only request was that if I made whipped cream or something yummy with it, that I allow her a taste. Since her birthday is tomorrow, I promised to make her something yummy. After throwing out a few suggestions, I mentioned the pots de creme, and she got a blank look on her face.
After explaining that it’s a delicious yummy French custard, she was sold. She didn’t even let me finish my explanation. So tomorrow, she’s coming over, and we’re going to eat our pots de creme. That’s why I put them in my extra large ramekins (what, you don’t have three sizes of ramekins at home?) and only made a half recipe, which gave me four pots de creme. So I can pretend like I’m spoiling my husband by surprising him with some tonight, too. I’ll just have to wait until the wee ones are in bed, as I know Mister Man – and he’d want his own, but I’m not sharing!
Chocolate Pots de Creme
4 c heavy cream
7 egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
1 T vanilla bean paste (my new favorite thing ever, but use a 1:1 replacement of vanilla extract if you don’t have any… yet)
1 t espresso or java extract
1/2 lb bittersweet chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the cream into a heavy pot and scald it – heat it over medium until it starts to steam and a light skin forms atop. You don’t want to burn it, so watch this. While you’re doing that, chop your chocolate and add it to another heavy pot and heat it on low until it melts.
At the same time, whisk the egg yolks in another bowl. Add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla and whisk until light and fluffy. Note that it will be brown and not your usually light yellow.
When the chocolate is melted and cream scalded, pour the cream slowly into the chocolate. Add a little cream and stir until it’s incorporated and continue to add the cream until it’s all in the chocolate. This is one time where you don’t want to scrape the bottom of the pan. If there is any burned cream, that’s where it will be. Yuck.
Now you’ll do the same to the eggs to temper them. Using a measuring cup, add a little of the chocolate cream mixture to the eggs while whisking to ensure the eggs don’t scramble. Add a half cup or so in total, which will bring the eggs up to temperature. At this point, you flip. While whisking, pour the eggs into the chocolate cream and keep whisking until they’re fully incorporated.
Place your ramekins into a baking dish. Using that same measuring cup (yay, no extra mess), scoop out the pots de creme mixture evenly into the ramekins.
Place the baking dish into the oven, and using a liquid measuring cup, pour water around the ramekins – careful not to get any in – until the water is about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake the pots de creme at 350 degrees for 25-35 minutes (or a little longer if you make them extra big like I did). When they are set on top but still jiggly in the middle, they are done. Let them cool, then place in the fridge until you’re ready to enjoy them. All I’m missing is a little vanilla bean whipped cream and some chocolate shavings.