JUNE 1999

Chocolate Syrup

Damian's Nectar

PB-and-Banana Chocolate Milkshake

Ice Cream Pie

Pots de Creme

Sweet Spot


Pots de Creme

Tips: Traditionally, pots de creme are very rich custards. This is a luxurious chocolate version, best eaten after a light meal. These will keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator after they are made, but they do not freeze. Natural accompaniments are lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh raspberries or strawberries; the whipped cream really is important here, as it helps to cut through the richness of the dessert. You'll need six "pots de creme" cups; mine are actually miniature souffle dishes. They are made of white porcelain, and each measures 3-1/2" top diameter and 1-3/4" in height, with a capacity of just under 2/3 cup. You'll also need a baking pan into which all six cups can fit without touching each other or the pan sides; it must be at least 1" deep. I use a 13" by 9" by 2" baking pan. If your pan is aluminum, sprinkle a bit of cream of tartar into the bottom before adding the water to prevent discoloration.

  • 3 ozs. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 3 ozs. semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup light cream, divided
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • Optional: 1 Tbsp. coffee OR orange liqueur
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • Pinch salt
  • 4 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large", beaten lightly just to mix
For Serving:
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream
  • Fresh strawberries or raspberries

Adjust oven rack to center position; preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Have ready six pots de creme or other white porcelain cups, each of just under 2/3 cup capacity. Have ready a baking pan at least 1" deep in which all six cups can fit without touching the sides of the pan or each other. Have ready enough hot water to cover the baking pan to a depth of 3/4" and a ruler that can stand very hot water (briefly). Set all aside.

In small heatproof bowl, place chopped chocolates. Heat heavy cream in small saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until very hot. Add about 2/3 of hot heavy cream to chopped chocolates. Place bowl of chocolates over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl). Whisk often until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat and hot water. Gradually whisk in remaining cream. Let cool at least 10 minutes.

In medium bowl, combine about 1/3 of light cream (reserve remainder), sugar, optional liqueur, vanilla, and salt. Stir gently with large spoon to mix well, pressing out any lumps of brown sugar. Do not whisk or beat this mixture; you don't want a lot of air in it. Add beaten egg yolks; again, stir gently to mix. Stir in the chocolate mixture, which may still be slightly warm. Heat the reserved light cream over low heat in a small saucepan, stirring often, until very hot. Very gradually, add the hot light cream to the chocolate-yolk mixture, stirring gently but constantly. When all ingredients are incorporated, strain mixture through a fine strainer into pitcher or liquid measuring cup of at least three-cup capacity.

Divide custard as evenly as possible among the six pots de creme cups, which will be quite full. Now, place large baking pan onto oven rack; add enough very hot water to cover the bottom of the pan. Working quickly but carefully, place five of the six filled pots de creme cups into the pan (make one row of three and one row of two, leaving a space for the last cup in the row of two). Remember, the cups must not touch the sides of the baking pan or one another. Now, measure the depth of the water; it should be between 1/2" and 3/4" deep (too much water will slow baking time). Adjust water depth as necessary; if you must add or remove water, be very careful not to get any in the custards. When the water depth is right, add last filled cup to the pan. Carefully slide the oven rack in and close the door.

Bake 32 to 40 minutes. Tops of custards will appear dark and shiny, and centers will quiver when cups are tapped lightly. Do not overbake. Gently remove pan from oven. Remove individual cups from pan (I find a slotted pancake turner helpful for this, but BE CAREFUL-- the filled cups are hot and their sides can be slippery). Cool briefly, then chill at least 4 hours before serving, covering tightly when cold. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream and strawberries or raspberries.

6 servings


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