Chocolate Pot de Creme – made easy

Last month, I did a Whole 30 – which meant no dairy, no grains, and most importantly no sugar. So I needed a truly triumphant return to the world of glorious sweetness.

I made these fabulous intensities of chocolate for the first time a couple months ago but neglected to take pictures. Hence, y’all didn’t hear about it. But I knew just how rich and creamy and chocolatey and amazing they were, so after 30 days of NO SUGAR OF ANY KIND, this is how I wanted to re-enter the world of the living.

If you’ve never had a pot de creme, it’s kind of like a denser version of chocolate mousse. It’s too sturdy to be a pudding or custard, and it’s not light or fluffy enough to be a mousse. It’s just deep, rich, creamy joy in every spoonful. I have a deep, profound love of chocolate mousse, but it’s been fussy to make when I’ve tried in the past, and I don’t have a go-to recipe. These are a gem.

Apparently, the traditional way to make these is to cook a custard on the stovetop and then bake them in the oven in/with a water bath. The culinary geniuses over at Cook’s Illustrated, however, feel as I do: that that sounds like a lot of hassle. So they created this version that’s entirely stovetop, which is super simple, and ermahgerd they’re fantastic.

Side-note, the half pint Ball jars are way cuter than the ramekins these normally come in. I found the jars at Target (I think?), and they’re great. They’re freezable (for other things), and for these it was super handy to have the lid.

Also, these are even better with a bit of fresh whipped cream on top, but I just couldn’t be bothered.

Chocolate Pot de Creme (from Cook’s Illustrated)

Grade: A+

  • 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cocoa – if more than 70% reduce to 8 ounces), chopped fine
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • ¼teaspoon table salt
  • 1 ½cups heavy cream
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • ½teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over the bowl and set aside.

Whisk the yolks, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan (not on the stove). Then, whisk in the heavy cream and half-and-half. Transfer the mixture to the stove and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and the custard registers 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes. Do not let custard overcook or simmer – you are not trying to get this to simmer, just heat slowly. And DO scrape the bottom. If you don’t, a thick-ish film/curd will form that can easily screw up the consistency.

Once it reaches the appropriate temperature, immediately pour the custard through the strainer over the chocolate. Let the mixture stand to melt the chocolate, about 2-3 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then gently whisk in vanilla and espresso.

Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins (or, if using Ball jars, fill to 4 oz line). Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.

Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap (or lids!) and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 72 hours. Before serving, let pots de crème stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes. (Or don’t. They’re still delicious cold).

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