Friday, June 08, 2007

Chocolate Pots de Creme

When there are fresh strawberries in my house, there is usually Angel Food Cake. And, when there is Angel Food Cake, there are unused egg yolks. As we sliced into the light spongy Angel Food Cake and prepared to devour it with fresh strawberry topping, Lou asked me why you never see Angel Food Cake in restaurants. Good question, I thought, but didn't know the answer to it. Perhaps it is just too common? Lou asked if there would be a good use for the leftover egg yolks in a restaurant...I replied, yes easily, for we often see creme brulee on a menu, which is basically baked custart and uses only the yolk. Lou's question reminded me that I myself had meant to use the leftover egg yolks for Pots de Creme, custards baked in individually sized ramekins. Pots de Creme are the antithesis of Angel Food Cake (which Lou thinks is healthy because it contains no fat, never mind all that sugar). Pots de creme are virtually all fat.

To make this decadent dessert, I would only need some whipping cream since I had the other three ingredients- yolks, sugar, and some very fine chocolate that I had bought on my trip to Chamonix, France in February. (Good quality chocolate is key to this dessert.) The following day, I purchased a pint of heavy whipping cream and set to work, very little work, for this is one of the easiest desserts on earth to make...

Chocolate Pots de Creme

2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream
5 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and heat a tea pot of water to simmer for a hot water bath.

Rinse a medium saucepan with water, then add the cream to the pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. (By rinsing the pan with water, there will be a small shield between the cream and the pan that will keep the cream from scorching.)

While the cream is coming to a simmer, stir the granulated sugar into the egg yolks in a large bowl until blended. Set aside.

When the cream has reached a low simmer, remove from heat and break the chocolate into the cream. Stir until completely melted.

Whisk a small portion of the chocolate mixture into the yolk mixture to temper the egg, taking care not to "cook" it. Add the remaining chocolate mixture whisking continuously.

Pour the custard into six 3/4 cup custard cups. Place in a flat-bottomed roasting pan and add the simmering hot water until it comes halfway up sides of cups. Bake until the custards are set around the edges but still soft in center. (they'll move slightly when shaken) About 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the cups from the water bath and chill in the refrigerator, uncovered until cold. If making ahead of time, cover with plastic wrap- they'll keep for a few days covered and kept chilled.

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