A long time ago my husband and I had drinks and dessert out and had these delicious little fancy chocolate puddings. They were pots de creme and were rich and decadent and served in these tiny little bowls which really turned out to be all you needed.
So I looked up the recipe on Cooks Illustrated, which, btw, is almost always where I start when I’m looking for a recipe. I like to know how to do something right and I know that Cooks is going to exhaust all of the possible recipes and techniques and figure out which one is the best. Usually it is the recipe or technique that tastes the best, but is not always the fastest. So “doing it right” is great, but not always fast. Luckily, pots de creme are very simple to make and require very little skill.
You are making a custard, which I always though of as difficult, but really it’s just making sure that your cream, eggs, sugar mixture doesn’t get too hot. It requires constant stirring, but only for 8-10 minutes. You can stand there and check Twitter and stir and it’s fine. Just don’t think you can step away for a minute to go to the bathroom because that’s when your custard will simmer and you don’t want that (it was fine).
I think in future I may look and see if the kind of chocolate I used (Ghirardelli 60% cocoa bars) comes in already chopped little bits. I don’t mind chopping chocolate bars, but it creates a lot of chocolate dust and the whole time I’m trying to save it all because OMG PRESHUS CHOCOLATE DUST GET IN MY BOWL.
I went to find a photo I knew I had taken from the first time I made pots de creme (because this time I didn’t take any) and realized that the last time I made this was Valentine’s 2012. So, pots de creme! Official Valentine’s dessert of the McCoys! See you in 2014!
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped fine
5 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.
Whisk yolks, sugar, and salt in medium bowl until combined; whisk in heavy cream and half-and-half. Transfer mixture to medium saucepan. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon, until thickened and silky and custard registers 175 to 180 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 8 to 12 minutes (see photos, below). Do not let custard overcook or simmer.
Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla and espresso. Divide mixture evenly among eight 5-ounce ramekins. Gently tap ramekins against counter to remove air bubbles.
Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap 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.
Top with whipped cream.
Recipe note: I did not strain my custard this time because I no longer own a fine mesh strainer (because of the children), and I forgot to empty grapes out of my smallest-holed colander, and it was fine. the consistency was smooth and there weren’t any clumps of cooked egg to be found. Your mileage may vary, of course.