You’ll need something chocolate tomorrow, yes? How about a few chocolate pots de crème? (Pots is pronounced po, being French and all.) It’s just like crème brûlée, only without the crackly caramelized sugar top, which can be tricky without a blowtorch. And I’m guessing most kitchens don’t come equipped with blowtorches.
Why settle for straight-up chocolate when it can be gently transformed with cream and egg yolks into a pot of silky smooth deliciousness you can eat with a spoon? These little baked custards are completely divine, require little to no skill, and can be done tonight for dessert tomorrow. If you don’t have ramekins, the dollar store sells them – two or three in a pack for a dollar. No lie.
Baked custards – like pots and crème brûlées – are generally done in what’s cheffily referred to as a bain marie – which sounds fancier and more complex, being French and all, than water bath. So really, you just need to toss them in a tub. That’s something you do to yourself almost every day, isn’t it? If you can bathe a baby, you can totally bathe a crème brûlée. The water acts as insulation, allowing it to bake gently and evenly, without producing scrambled eggy bits.
For chocolate-orange pots de crème, add a little orange zest. These pots are easy to play with, flavour-wise. And doesn’t it sound fancy when you add a pinch of espresso (or plain old coffee) powder to the cream as you whip it? You could sweeten it with pure maple syrup instead, or booze. Or mash raspberries and swirl them into whipped cream, making a sort of raspberry fool to dollop on top.
There are no rules – except try to share. Just do your best.
Chocolate Pots de Crème
Bon Appétit, April 2000; the espresso or coffee intensifies the chocolate flavour, but won’t make your pots taste like a pot of coffee.
2 cups whipping cream
4 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp. instant espresso or coffee powder
6 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp. sugar
Position rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Arrange six 3/4-cup ramekins in a roasting or 9×13-inch pan.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat until it’s steaming; remove from the heat and add the chocolate and espresso powder. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk until smooth.
Meanwhile, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. When the chocolate mixture has cooled a bit, whisk it in. Divide the custard between the cups, and pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custards are set but still just slightly jiggly in the middle. Cool, then refrigerate until well chilled – at least 2 hours, or up to a day or two.
Serves 6 very happy people.
Espresso Whipped Cream: whip 1 cup chilled heavy (whipping) cream with sugar to taste and about a 1/2 tsp. instant espresso or coffee – again, you can add more or less according to your preference. Taste as you go.