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  • Stovetop Chocolate Custard

    Tips: This is a dessert with delicate, almost pudding-like consistency, but it contains no cornstarch. It’s thick, smooth, and creamy, quite rich, and not too sweet. Oh, and very chocolatey. It’s a great make-ahead dessert, as well, as the custards will sit happily in the fridge (tightly covered, please) for up to 3 or 4 days. Note, though, that they don’t freeze.

    You’ll need individual ramekins, preferably made of white porcelain to show off the deep chocolate color of the custard. Each should hold 1/3 cup; you can measure by filling one to the top with water, then quickly pouring the water into a liquid measuring cup (if you pour slowly, the water will spill). My ramekins measure just under 2-3/4 inches top diameter, and they’re just over 1-1/2 inches tall.

    6 Servings


    • 3 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 egg yolk, from an egg graded "large"
    • 1 cup plus 1 Tbsp. half and half
    • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder
    • Few grains of salt
    • 2 tsp. orange liqueur
    • 1 tsp. vanilla

    For serving:
    Lightly sweetened whipped cream
    Shaved or grated bittersweet chocolate

    Set ramekins aside near stovetop. Place finely chopped bittersweet chocolate into a liquid measuring cup of at least 3-cup capacity (I use a one-quart liquid measure). Place a fine strainer atop the liquid measuring cup, then place the whole assembly on a hot pad near your stovetop.

    Place egg yolk in a small bowl. Add about 2 tablespoons of the half and half (no need to measure), beating well with a fork (reserve remaining half and half).

    Combine granulated sugar, cocoa powder, and salt in small, heavy-bottomed, nonaluminum saucepan; blend well with whisk. Add yolk mixture and stir well to blend, scraping bottom and sides of pot with rubber spatula. Heat reserved half and half (either in separate small saucepan over low heat, stirring often, or in microwave) until very hot. Gradually (very gradually at first) pour into yolk-sugar-cocoa mixture, stirring constantly with whisk. Scrape sides and bottom of pot with rubber spatula.

    Set this mixture over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until mixture comes to a boil; boil and stir one minute, reducing heat slightly if mixture starts boiling hard. Remove from heat immediately and stir for about a minute. Pour about one-third of this hot liquid through the sieve onto the chocolate. Wait for a minute or two, then gently whisk chocolate until melted and smooth. Add about half of remaining hot liquid through the sieve and whisk in gently. Scrape bottom and sides of liquid measuring cup to ensure thorough blending of ingredients. Strain in final portion of hot liquid. Add liqueur and vanilla and stir in gently until combined.

    Divide custard among ramekins. Remember to leave a little headroom at the top of each ramekin for whipped cream. Carefully transfer ramekins to refrigerator. Chill at least two hours before serving, covering tightly with plastic wrap when cold.

    Serve with a puff of lightly sweetened whipped cream on top; sprinkle a tiny bit of the shaved or grated chocolate onto the whipped cream.


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    ...Published: April 2005