“Pot de crème” is French for “pot of custard.” It definitely sounds better in French. Also, I like it because it has the accent grave, the backwards accent mark. It’s no umlaut, but it’s a pretty solid diacritical mark. The aesthetics of its spelling aside, it’s also a wonderful, rich, chocolaty dessert sure to get your mouth watering.
Pots de crème needs to sit in the fridge for a little while before their ready to be served, but that’s a plus in my book. That means it’s a dessert that can be made well in advance and busted out when the time is right. If you have company coming over or a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary that falls in the middle of a busy week, these pots de crème are something you can make a day or two in advance. Just because it’s a Tuesday, doesn’t mean it can’t be special.
Our take on the french classic has hints of coffee and cinnamon that compliment the rich chocolate quite nicely. We also have a no-bake approach, which yields a silky custard that’s easy to prepare. Traditional pot de crème is served in a special white dish, or pot. If you don’t happen to have a supply of these at your house, just use ramekins, or, in my case, tea bowls. No matter what the vessel, this stuff is fantastic.
Pots de Crème (adapted from Cooks Illustrated)
makes 8 servings
10 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60% cocoa)
5 eggs yolks
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon strong, freshly brewed, coffee
1 tablespoon good cinnamon
Reduce the chocolate to a fine chop and place in a large heat-proof bowl. In a another medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, and then whisk in the salt, cinnamon, cream, and milk. In a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan heat the cream mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens considerably and reaches a temperature of 175 degrees.
Right away, pour the cream mixture over the chocolate and stir. Let the custard sit for five minutes while the chocolate melts. Whisk the custard until it is smooth and creamy, add the vanilla and coffee, and then spoon into ramekins, or other vessels.
Cover the ramekins with plastic wrap (I put the plastic right against the surface to prevent pudding skin), and chill for at least 4 hours. The dessert can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Let the custard sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with a small dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings.