Decadent Bittersweet Chocolate Pots De Crème
My friend Pat Loud says that chocolate is ALWAYS the best choice for dessert at a dinner party. What I love about Pots de Crème is that it can be made ahead (up to 3 days) and it packs a great chocolate punch. The satiny texture takes “chocolate pudding” to a whole new decadent level. Many recipes require a baking the dishes in a hot water bath, but this recipe is much simpler and uses a cooked custard (crème anglaise) method which is poured over the bittersweet chocolate. You can cut the recipe in half to serve 4 or increase as needed depending on how many you are serving. Small porcelain dishes or espresso cups make great serving dishes and because it’s so rich, a small amount goes a long way. Although I like to serve it with a small butter waffle cookie and my recently discovered Yoku Moku cookies from Japan (http://www.yokumoku.com), a simple dollop of cream and some chocolate shavings will deliver beautiful dessert for any occasion.
10 ounces Ghirardelli or Callebaut bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
5 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon table salt
1 ½ cups heavy cream
¾ cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or Kahlua
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water (optional)
Whipped Cream Topping
1/2 cup heavy cream (cold)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cocoa powder for dusting
Chocolate shavings for sprinkling
POTS DE CRÈME:
1. Place chocolate in medium heatproof bowl; set fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set aside.
2. 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. Do not let custard overcook or simmer.
3. Immediately pour custard through strainer over chocolate. Let mixture stand to melt chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then whisk in vanilla (or Kahlua) and espresso. Divide mixture evenly among eight small cups. Gently tap against counter to remove air bubbles.
4. 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.
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM: Using hand mixer or standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla on low speed until bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave trail, about 30 seconds longer. Increase speed to high; continue beating until nearly doubled in volume and whipped cream forms soft peaks, 30 to 45 seconds longer.
5. Dollop each pot de crème with about 2 tablespoons whipped cream; garnish with cocoa or chocolate shavings, if using. Serve.