Tips: Deep, dark, and rich, this tastes like a cross between
a pot de creme and chocolate pudding. You'll need four custard
cups, each with a 6-ounce capacity. You'll also need a baking
pan that can accomodate all four cups without touching and is
shallower than the cups, as they bake in a water bath. Because
there is no test for doneness (if you test these in the manner
usual for baked custards, you'll think they're undercooked),
your oven must maintain an accurate temperature.
would be a perfect ending to a light, springtime meal. The custards
can also be prepared a day or three in advance, and they'll
sit happily in the fridge until you want to eat them. The ideal
accompaniments are lightly sweetened whipped cream and perhaps
some chocolate shavings or a few fresh raspberries or strawberries.
Please use the best-quality semisweet chocolate you can find
for the custards; it really does make a difference.
ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla
ready four custard cups, each of 6-ounce capacity. Cover each
with a square of aluminum foil, folding any extra down the sides
of the cups. Trim the foil so there isn't more than about 1/2
inch of overhang all around. Have ready a baking pan capable
of holding all four cups without their touching either each
other or the sides of the pan; if the pan is aluminum, sprinkle
about 1 teaspoon cream of tartar into the bottom to prevent
discoloration as the custards bake. Have ready enough very hot
water to fill the baking pan to a depth of one inch. Set all
aside. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 300 degrees
chopped chocolate in small heatproof bowl. In small, heavy-bottomed
saucepan, heat cream until very hot, stirring occasionally.
Pour about half of hot cream over chocolate. Allow to stand
for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth.
(If necessary, place bowl of chocolate over simmering water
on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir frequently
just until melted and smooth, then remove from heat and hot
water. Dry bowl bottom and sides.) Gradually stir in remaining
hot cream. Chocolate mixture should be warm but not hot.
small heatproof bowl, beat egg yolks with fork until combined.
Stirring constantly, very gradually add warm chocolate mixture.
Be sure to scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula.
Mixture will be thick. Set aside on potholder near stove top.
clean, small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine sugar, unsweetened
cocoa powder, and salt. With spoon, blend well, pressing out
as many lumps as possible. Gradually stir in milk; cocoa will
probably float to top and there will be undissolved lumps of
it--OK. Place over low heat. Stir frequently, scraping bottom
and sides of pot with rubber spatula occasionally, until milk
is very hot. Remove from heat.
chocolate-yolk mixture constantly, very gradually add hot milk
mixture. Do not beat chocolate-yolk mixture, as you don't want
a lot of air in the custard. When all of hot milk mixture has
been added, scrape bowl bottom and sides with rubber spatula,
add vanilla, and stir again briefly. Strain custard through
a fine strainer into a liquid measure or small pitcher of at
least 2-1/2 cup capacity.
strained custard evenly among custard cups. Let stand 2 minutes;
if any foam appears on top of custard, gently spoon it off.
Cover custard cups with foil covers.
baking pan on oven rack; add enough very hot water to form a
thin layer on pan bottom. Gently and carefully place covered
custard cups into pan so that they do not touch each other or
the sides of the pan. Carefully add enough additional hot water
so that it is 1 inch deep in the baking pan (it's helpful to
measure the water; if there is too much, baking may be slowed).
Bake for 45 minutes.
good potholders, remove baking pan, with covered custard cups
still in it, to stovetop or cooling rack. Carefully remove custard
cups from hot water to cooling rack (an easy way to do this
is to work a slotted, broad-bladed, metal spatula under each
custard cup). Remove foil covers from custard cups. Top of custards
should look quite dark; centers of custards will still be a
bit quivery if cups are tapped.
custards to cool briefly at room temperature, then chill at
least 4 hours before serving, covering tightly when cold. Store
in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Do not freeze. Serve with
lightly sweetened whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh
raspberries or strawberries.
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