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Chocolate Apotheosis: Pots de Crème

potdecreme1Secrets. Everyone has them, and almost everyone ends up spreading them around. This wonderful little recipe holds several secrets that I’m very pleased to share. First–and no surprise–they are delicious. Smooth and creamy, every spoonful floods your mouth with the nuanced flavors of finest chocolate. So, yay for THAT. Also, and just as important, they are quick and easy. I can’t imagine why anyone would make a mere chocolate pudding or mess around with mousse when pots de crème can be had for the same level of exertion.

It goes without saying that these are very, very rich. I usually serve them with a few crisp little cookies (langues de chat are a lovely option) and a bit of fruit–grapes or a diced orange salad. Small tea or punch cups can be lovely, but I’ve found that demitasse cups yield the perfect portions. They’re really an elegant ending to almost anything. Infusing the cream mixture can add layers of flavor that enable them to cap more exotic meals. I’ve done chili and cinnamon to follow a Mexican dinner, and star anise with black sesame tuiles after a big, celebratory Chinese banquet.

Chocolate Pots de Crème
Rose Levy Beranbaum via Marcel Desaulniers
Yield: 8 servings

1 c heavy cream
3/4 c whole milk
12 oz semi or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 large egg yolks
1 tbs coffee liqueur

Heat the cream and milk in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Bringto a boil. While the cream is heating, heat 1″ of water in the bottom half of a double boiler (I use a small saucepan and the metal bowl from my mixer) over medium high heat. Place the chocolate in the top half of the double boiler and stir with a silicone spatula till melted. Whisk the egg yolks into the melted chocolate. (It will clump together unattractively; just keep whisking.) Slowly pour the boiling cream into the chocolate mixture, whisking constantly. Bring to a temperature of 160 degrees F, about 3 1/2 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and transfer to a stainless steel bowl (if using the mixer bowl, just take it off the pot).  Add the liqueur. Cool in an ice water bath, stirring constantly with a spatula to a temperature of 90 degrees F, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Evenly divide the mixture into 8 small cups. Let cool briefly, then cover each tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours to set before serving. Serve within two days, removing from the refrigerator at least 1/2 hour prior to serving.

Desaulniers, Marcel. Death by Chocolate: The Last Word on A Consuming Passion. (New York: Rizzoli International Publications) 1993.

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