Sunday, 6 March 2011

I Almost Couldn't Finish Eating This... Keyword: Almost

When I woke up this morning, Giada was at work on lemon and white chocolate pots de crème, the latter part of that which literally translates to pots of cream. And with a slew of cooking shows beginning tonight, I obviously had to translate that into make more food; so, I did. However, I'm not a huge fan of white "chocolate" (unless it's frozen and has cookies in it), so I revised Giada's work to a "darker" version, and made just enough for two (though, four might as well share it). I forewarn you: this is not a recipe for non-chocolate lovers.

To start things off, preheat your oven to 300° F, and heat on lo-med 1/2 c heavy cream and 1/4 c milk (I used 2%, so use less milk if you go with whole). Let this come to a slight foam and definitely do not use heat greater than lo-med, as you'll risk curdling the liquid. As you heat up the cream and milk, get a pot of water boiling and chop up a 3.5 oz bar of intense mint dark chocolate. I used a mezzaluna knife to chop up the chocolate and found it easier to chop when the chocolate came straight from the freezer (as opposed to being at room temp). Transfer the chocolate into a bowl and once you've achieved that slight foam (i.e., the cream/milk get to a point a little past simmering), add this to the chocolate. The heat will melt the chocolate; use a spatula to gently stir everything together until the chocolate has sufficiently melted and the liquid is smooth and silky.

In a separate bowl, beat very well two egg yolks and beat in 2 tsp powdered sugar until the sugar has sufficiently dissolved. To this, whisk in 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 1/4 tsp sea salt. Next, slowly pour in the chocolate cream and whisk to incorporate. Work quickly, or else the remaining heat from the cream could scramble the eggs.

Divide the (now) custard between two ramekins and place them in a deep baking dish atop a baking sheet. Into the baking dish, pour the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins. Bake (really, you're "steaming" the custard) this in the oven for 30 min. In the meantime, work on the clean-up. After time has elapsed, take the custard out and leave the ramekins to cool in the hot water bath until they're cool enough to handle (about 20 min; 30 min recommended). [An aside: When you first take the ramekins out, the custard will show signs of setting on the outer edges, while the center appears runny; don't worry, the custard will set completely as it cools.] Once the ramekins are safe to handle, wipe off any excess water and transfer them to the fridge; refrigerate the custard for at least 3 hours (I suppose you could tempt fate and wait less time... but trust me, it's worth it to wait).

After the pots de crème (French custard) are fully set (you should be able to hold the ramekins upside down with confidence), top each off with a quenelle of vanilla yogurt, a fanned-out thinly-sliced strawberry, and some grated chocolate (here, I used a frozen mint Andes). Fairly simple to make, though rather time-consuming, this dessert is extremely rich yet balanced by the sweetness of the strawberry and even further enhanced by the slight tang and creaminess of the yogurt.

...Well, what are you waiting for at this point? Enjoy!!

For more photos from this wonderful dessert-making process, click here.

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