Chocolate Pots de Creme

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 Rich, smooth and decadent, these Chocolate Pots de Creme from Martha Stewart are a classic French dessert that everyone will love.

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Love is not pink. Or red. It is not confined to a day. Not even a month or year.

Love sits and watches a college basketball game it doesn’t care about. It also watches Iron Chef America when it would rather eat than cook. Love watches Dora the Explorer.

Love stops someone in the hall and starts scratching a back, resulting in a sound that would be a purr if the person were a cat.

Love cooks liver even though touching it is disgusting.

Love goes to the grocery store when there’s no Diet Coke in the house just for Diet Coke.

Love sits on the floor for hour upon hour for round after round of I Spy board games.

Love plays with hair.

Love lets chickens take over the back yard.

Love makes chocolate.

The Process
This is a bit time intensive for two little servings, so be sure that you love chocolate that’s laced with coffee before you start. Also know that you’ll use several bowls just to get the two ramekins.

The first part, heating the cream, espresso and vanilla and pouring it over the chocolate is easy enough. The more finely you chop the chocolate, the more quickly it melts (e.g., fine is better).

The second bowl has the egg yolk, sugar and a tiny bit of salt in it. You’ll be pouring the warm chocolate mixture into this. Because the warm stuff could cook the egg, it’s important to do pour slowly and whisk constantly. This will keep the egg from scrambling.

Because there is no way to keep the egg from cooking at least a little, be sure to strain the mixture through a sieve into another bowl. When I looked at my mixture I would have sworn that there were no lumps in it. However, as it went through the strainer, I saw little pieces of stuff stuck in there. I’m glad I strained.

Baking the dessert is one of those things that includes water (I hate those). Put your serving containers in a baking dish. Martha used tea cups; I used ramekins. Fill your ramekins with the mixture; it’ll just come about halfway up (seriously small servings). Now pour enough boiling water in the baking dish so it comes halfway up the ramekins. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil; poke holes in the foil and bake.

The Verdict
First, the look of things. For some reason my creme didn’t have the beautiful smooth top that Martha’s does. It’ looked mottled, as though the creme had either boiled or water from the foil had dripped on it. I don’t know which thing happened. Not an attractive look, however.

Taste is a different story. This is very rich and Martha’s right in making small servings. Anything larger would be sugar coma-inducing. The chocolate flavor is strong, but so is the coffee. They balance well. Hubby finished the first ramekin in three bites and enjoyed it very much. The bite I tasted was silky smooth and would definitely be delicious to a chocolate lover.

On an interesting side note, there is a Gourmet recipe almost exactly like this (they use regular milk and heavy cream) in one of their really old magazines. Hmmmmmm.

What I’d Do Different Next Time
The Gourmet recipe (and several others) sets the ramekins on a kitchen towel that’s been placed in the baking dish. I wonder if that would help the tops stay nice and smooth.

Chocolate Pots de Creme - print this recipe
from Martha Stewart Living, February 2012

3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70 percent), finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon sugar
Coarse salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream, the espresso, and vanilla to a simmer; pour over chocolate in a medium bowl. Let sit for 3 minutes; whisk until smooth.

In another medium bowl, whisk together egg yolk, sugar, and a pinch of coarse salt; add warm chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Strain custard through a fine sieve into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Let cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.

Place 2 teacups in the center of a baking dish. Divide custard between cups, and fill pan with enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the teacups. Cover tightly with foil; poke several holes in foil. Bake until custard is set around edges but wobbly in center, about 25 minutes.

Remove cups from water bath, and let custards cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, and up to 2 days. Before serving, whisk remaining 2 tablespoons cream to soft peaks, and dollop over pots de creme.

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