Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mocha Pots de Crème

Many Parisian bistros offer three-course prix fixe menus for lunch and dinner, and I have seen pots de crème on almost all of the menus as the dessert. Pots de Crème are the French version of pudding cups. They are actually more creamy and mousse-like than what we in America classify as pudding, though.

I remembered this recipe as one I have wanted to try for a long time now. Since I am in Paris-mode now, I figured, "What better recipe to make to celebrate my pending arrival in France?"

These are fantastic. Actually, they are utterly sinful. The perfect balance of chocolate and espresso is evident in this delicious dessert. The chocolate is really enhanced by the espresso powder. One bite you taste chocolate. The next bite you taste espresso. These are very rich and indulgent yet they are not overly sweet. Make sure to use quality chocolate for best taste. I used Valrhona.

These would best be served after a light meal or shared with somebody after a heavy meal.

I am sharing these with my neighbor Chris for watching my car and apartment while I'm in France. He's a self-proclaimed chocoholic, so I know he will be happy to see me with five mocha pots de crème in hand later this afternoon.

Mocha Pots de Crème

Source: Adapted from Atlanta Cooks At Home

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
5 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 T. instant espresso powder
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of fine sea salt
Approximately 4-6 c. of boiling water to create a bain marie (water bath)

Place oven rack in the middle of the oven. Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Place six (6 oz.) ramekins in a medium roasting pan and set aside. Begin boiling water for a bain marie.

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, milk, chocolate and espresso powder over medium heat. Bring almost to a simmer and remove from heat. Set aside, stirring occasionally until chocolate is almost completely melted.

In a 1-quart measuring cup, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar. While whisking, add a little of the hot milk mixture to temper. Add the remaining mixture and whisk to combine. Whisk in the vanilla and salt.

Pour approximately 1/2 cup of the egg mixture into each ramekin. Cover each of the ramekins tightly with aluminum foil to prevent a skin from forming. Fill pan with enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides. (This is the bain marie.) Carefully transfer the roasting pan to the oven. Bake until the custards are set in the center. 35-40 minutes.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Remove the pots from the water and place on a wire rack to cool, about 30 minutes; transfer to fridge to cool completely, preferably overnight.

To serve, top with whipped cream (if desired).

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