To Brûlée or not to Brûlée: Chocolate Pôts de Crème

12 Jul

There’s nothing like your own personal dessert.  Especially if it’s your own rich, thick, chocolatey, creamy personal dessert.

This recipe yields 6 servings in individual “pôts,” or ramekins, so it works great for a dinner party. Or, let’s be honest, it also works great if you like having a week’s worth of personal-portion desserts in the fridge, like I do. The preparation time is only 15 minutes, so it’s a snap to do on a Sunday night. Once you’re ready to enjoy you can add a brown sugar brûlée crust–or not. It’s an indulgent, delicious dessert either way.

Crisp on top and creamy underneath. So good.

Individual Chocolate Pôts de Crème

Ingredients:

  • 3 squares (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate
  • 2 ½ cups milk*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*What kind of milk should you use? It’s up to you. The richer the milk, the richer the custard will be.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Arrange six 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups in roasting pan (I used a 14″ by 10″, but whatever works, works).

    6 ramekins means one for monday, one for tuesday, wednesday...

  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat chocolate and ¼ milk over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted. Then, remove saucepan from heat.
  3. In another small sauce pan, heat remaining 2¼ cups milk over medium-high heat until you bring the milk to boiling. Remove this saucepan from heat and stir it into the chocolate mixture until it is incorporated.
  4. In a large bowl, use a wire whisk or fork to beat together the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla until blended. Slowly whisk in chocolate mixture until well combined.
  5. Pour or ladle the mixture evenly into ramekins  that are arranged in roasting pan.
  6. Carefully pour boiling water into roasting pan until the water comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Place the roasting pan into the oven.
  7. Bake 30 to 35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the custard comes out clean. Transfer ramekins to wire rack to cool. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours, until well chilled.

Mmm. When the custard is cooked you'll see small air bubbles on the surface. Don't worry if it jiggles a little when you remove it from the oven. The custard will set in the fridge and once it's chilled the consistency will be similar to crème brûlée.

Notes: This recipe is super easy. There are only two things you want to be careful about:

  • When you incorporate the eggs, sugar, and vanilla mixture with the hot chocolate milk, add the liquid slowly while you whisk vigorously to  make sure the temperature of the egg mixture changes evenly. Adding the hot liquid to the egg mixture too quickly will cook the eggs and create chocolate scrambled eggs.
  • Make sure the hot water is half-way up the side of the ramekins when you pour the water into the roasting pot–if there’s not enough water surrounding the ramekins the custard won’t come out soft or smooth. This is because the proteins in the eggs are very heat sensitive. The hot water bath (snobby French cooks call it a Bain-Marie) actually protects the custard from too much direct heat.

Mocha Pôts de Crème: If you like the combination of chocolate and coffee, I’ve made this dessert in the past using Starbuck’s refrigerated/bottled Frappuccinos instead of regular milk. I’m not a black coffee drinker, so the extra sugar in the Frappuccino is a good thing for me. But, if you’re looking for a stronger coffee flavor, follow the recipe above, but heat the 2 ¼ cups of milk to boiling with 1 tablespoon of instant coffee powder. Then bake, cool, and chill as directed.

If you ask me, a chef's torch is worth the investment. You can find them on Amazon for about $24.

Chocolate Crème Brûlée: Follow the recipe above for chocolate pôts de crème. After the custards have chilled, cover the top with granulated brown sugar–I use one packet of Brown Sugar in the Raw that I keep around for coffee for each ramekin. Use a chef’s torch to brown the sugar, creating a  shiny, crisp brûlée crust. If you don’t have a chef’s torch, put the ramekins on a cookie sheet, and place the sheet under your broiler rack at the closest position to the heat source. Broil the ramekins for 3 to 4 minutes, until the sugar melts.

Once you Brûlée the custard, you can refrigerate until ready to serve, as long as you serve within 4 hours, or else the brown sugar topping will lose its crispness.

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One Response to “To Brûlée or not to Brûlée: Chocolate Pôts de Crème”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pig Out on Vanilla-Coconut Bread Pudding–and here’s the Secret Ingredient: Soymilk « good taste - July 15, 2010

    […] crème brûlée, the pudding cooks in a water bath. The custard comes out smooth, creamy, and for me tastes a […]

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