Thursday, May 5, 2011

Pots-de-Creme au Chocolat

If you grew up with, or still enjoy, Jell-O Pudding snacks, you'll never go back.

Some desserts remind us of someone we love, a simpler time, or have been a favorite for years. Like my Dad's favorite graham cracker, chocolate pudding and whipped cream dessert Mom makes it every year for his birthday. It's basically those three ingredients, layered and chilled. I think he could eat the whole batch! Those recipes are untouchable, but it's fabulous to try something new, decadent and delicious that could be come a tradition in the future. If you've never tried pots-de-creme, this recipe simplifies the process by melting rich dark chocolate with a simple warm custard and chilling the results in small ramekins or teacups for several hours before topping with fresh whipped cream and devouring. The recipe I use here was shared with me by a former boss turned friend, G.O, who also loves to cook. Thank you G.O!! The only twist I added was an extra flavoring ingredient... a gift from my sister who visited the Dominican Republic recently. She hates liqueur in any dessert but I think it brings another dimension of flavor. Try hazelnut liqueur or almond extract instead for a different twist!

I know we're approaching summer in the Northern Hemisphere so your thighs won't thank me but take the stairs a few extra times--these pots-de-creme are worth it.

Pots-de-Creme au Chocolat
serves 8, 5 oz ramekins

10oz. bittersweet chocolate chopped fine (use one with 60% cocoa)
1.5 cups of heavy cream
3/4 cup of half-and-half
5 large egg yolks (save the whites for an omelet!)
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tablespoon of water
1 tablespoon Mamajuana or other liqueur

Put the chocolate in a good ceramic or other heatproof bowl and set a fine-mesh strainer over the top. If you don't have a strainer like that no biggie. Keep in mind you will ultimately be pouring the custard from this bowl to your ramekin so if you have something that serves that purpose better go with that.
8 teacups...ready!
In a saucepan whisk together the heavy cream, half-and-half, yolks, sugar and salt and cook over a medium-low heat. A wooden spoon works well here as you will want to continually stir and scrap the bottom of the pan. Cook until it thickens and registers between 175-180 degrees.
cooking custard
Immediately strain the custard into the bowl of chocolate - assuming you have the strainer.

strainer is a good idea

Let it sit for about 5 minutes or so - maybe a little less - and do it's work in melting the chocolate. Whisk gently and combine the melted chocolate with the custard.

While whisking add the vanilla, espresso and any other flavoring. Divide evenly amongst your ramekins. Tap the ramekins to get out any air bubbles.
don't touch until they've cooled!

Let them cool - unrefrigerated - until they get to room temperature. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours. If you want to make ahead of time you can refrigerate them up to three days ahead - or you could eat one after four hours and then another one day later, so on, so on.
Best to serve with fresh and real whipped cream and shaved chocolate.

I shared with my husband.

Bon Appetit!