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Petits Pots de Crème au Chocolat

Before our present obsession with chocolate mousse, lovers of French cooking were filling individual porcelain pots with intensely rich, dense chocolate custard. Although this marvelous dessert looks very sophisticated, there is no great secret to success. Just start with the right kind of small, heatproof cups and a good-quality French, Swiss or Belgian bittersweet chocolate such as Callebaut, Valrhona, Tobler or Lindt. Mix the ingredients following the recipe instructions precisely, then strain the mixture to rid it of any lumps. Baking the filled pots in a water bath provides the gentle, moist heat the custard needs to thicken properly.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small
      pieces
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • 1 to 2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 325°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready.

In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted and well blended. Let cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and sugar. Using a whisk, beat until pale yellow and thick enough to fall from the whisk in a lazy ribbon, about 5 minutes. Slowly stir in the warm chocolate cream and add the vanilla extract, to taste.

Place six 1/4-cup pot de crème pots with lids or ramekins in a baking pan. Pour the chocolate mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into the pots or ramekins, dividing it evenly. Pour boiling water into the baking pan to a depth of 1 inch. Cover the pots with their lids or the ramekins with a single sheet of aluminum foil. Bake until the custards are just set at the edges, 15 to 20 minutes. They should still tremble slightly.

Remove the baking pan from the oven. Place the pots or ramekins on a wire rack, remove the lids or aluminum foil and let cool at room temperature. When cool, cover again and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days before serving.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Celebrating the Pleasures of Cooking, by Chuck Williams (Time-Life Books, 1997).