Cream of the crop



Planning a festive dinner party? Want to wow your guests with the ultimate piece de resistance? Try light, creamy and sinful chocolate pots of cream.

We can thank the French for this luscious dessert, which is really just lightly set custard. The French dessert, whose name literally translates “pots of cream,” is served in small porcelain cups.

Because the French have no word for custard, the dish is literally referred to as crème. This dessert, not as thick as crème brulee or flan, is best baked and served in individual cups.

Some of the earliest examples of crème pots date back to the early 1700s. Many major European porcelain manufacturers, including Sevres, Limoges, Dresden and Wedgewood, produced renditions of the dainty cup, always shown with the dessert service.

No crème pots in your pantry? A 4-ounce ramekin or custard cup will work. For best results in this recipe, use a good quality chocolate, either bittersweet or semi-sweet. Don’t be tempted to skip straining the mixture before baking, as it is key to achieving the creamy and smooth texture.

Be careful not to over-bake; you want the mixture to just begin to set.

Once you have mastered the art of combining cream and egg yolks to produce delicious pots of cream, there are endless variations to the theme. Espresso adds a depth of flavor, while cayenne pepper creates a bite. Whatever your flavor, sit back, relax, and enjoy the luxury.

 

 

Chocolate Pots de Crème

Makes six ½ cup servings 

 

2 cups light cream (divided)

4 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate

6 egg yolks

2 Tbsps. sugar

Pinch of salt

1½ tsps. vanilla

 

Center the rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees F.

Heat ½ cup cream and the chocolate in the top of a large double boiler over hot water on moderate heat. Whisk and heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

In a mixing bowl, stir the egg yolks lightly to mix — do not beat until foamy. Heat the remaining 1½ cups cream. Stir in the sugar and salt. Add the cream to the eggs, stirring constantly. Then stir in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla.

Return the mixture to the heat in the double boiler and cook, stirring constantly with a rubber scraper, until it starts to thicken.

Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Then pour into individual half-cup soufflé dishes; do not fill all the way. Place the cups in a shallow baking pan. Pour hot water to about half the depth of the cups. Place a cookie sheet over the top to cover the cups (or if you have used pot de crème cups, put their covers on)

Bake for 22 minutes. The usual test for baked custard is to insert a small, sharp knife halfway between the middle and the edge and when it comes out clean, they are done.

However, with this recipe, if the knife comes out clean, the pots are overdone. The custard will look soft, but it will become firmer as it chills. It is best if it is still creamy in the center when served.

Place on a rack to cool, then refrigerate a few hours.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 265 calories, 6 grams protein, 19 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams fat, 45 mg. sodium, 1.5 grams fiber.

Cheryl Wixson
"Maine Dish" columnist Cheryl Wixson lives and cooks in Stonington. Her passion for organic Maine products led to the creation of her business, Cheryl Wixson's Kitchen. She welcomes food-related questions and comments at [email protected] or www.cherylwixsonskitchen.com.
Cheryl Wixson

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