Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dark Chocolate Pots De Creme

Custard and its various delicious incarnations - I am just opening my eyes to them! Creme Anglaise or home made custard sauce was super delicious, tempting me to try more of its variations, Pots De Creme one among them. Deeba's gorgeous Pots de Creme made me sigh, made me wish I could have really tasted it, made me  forget my resolve to not eat desserts (just for a while;) and then finally before I knew it, I was reaching out for the packet of cream and chopping the chocolate. Chocolate is temptation enough as is and when chocolate is  'smooth, silky and deep mousse-like' as she describes it, its more so. Aah, the lure of desserts which need so little effort and hands on time, how can I love chocolate and not give in ?

Pots De Creme (pronounced as Po de Krehm) is also called as pot-au-creme, French for Pots of Cream. As Deeba mentions, Pots De Creme, refers to the little desserts as well as the little lidded pots these are served in. Essentially baked custards, these are made by heating milk, heavy cream or half and half and sugar, then added to vanilla, coffee, caramel or chocolate (most commonly) or other flavors. The hot mixture is gradually whisked into egg yolks and sugar, then strained and poured into the baking dishes. 

Straining is an important step here as it helps remove any bits of uncooked egg, giving the custard a smoother texture. The custard is baked in a bain-marie or water bath. The water bath helps the custard cook slowly and evenly with indirect heat and also offers protection against curdling. Information complied from Potsdecreme.

Aluminum foil or plastic wrap is used to cover the custard as it bakes, which helps prevent formation of a thicker, drier layer of custard, the skin - you either love this or hate this I learn! (I discover I don't like it) The custard is baked at a low temperature, the resulting dessert a  lightly set custard which can be eaten warm or chilled. A truly delicious, easy and quick recipe, which can be conveniently made ahead and refrigerated, perfect for entertaining or when you need that dessert fix on that lazy weekend. Here is how we go about making these

Adapted from Passionate About Baking, originally from Cannelle et Vanille. Deeba uses cherries and Aran uses raspberries in the desserts, I have made them plain.

Whole milk - 200ml
Low fat cream - 250ml {I used Amul 25% fat}
Vanilla bean - 1, split and seeded or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla sugar or regular fine grained sugar - 40gms
Egg yolks - 85 grams (a little less than 5 yolks, do weigh)
Bittersweet chocolate - 160gms, chopped into small pieces

Getting ready:

Assemble a large, heavy saucepan with a handle, a ladle of about 1/4 cup capacity,  3 large bowls, plus another large bowl with a wide base, a large fine meshed strainer, a couple of spoons, a whisk, a spatula. You will need 6-8 (sorry, forgot how many this filled) small 120 ml capacity ramekins or oven proof bowls. If using ramekins of different capacity the baking time will vary. Small portions are better.

Suspend the strainer over one of the large bowls (You should be able to easily pour the custard from this bowl into the ramekins).

We need a baking  tin which will fit the ramekins without crowding them in, but not too much empty space otherwise. This is particularly important if baking in a convection microwave as your ramekins will swim in the water as the turntable rotates.

Place a small kitchen towel to cover the bottom of the tin, then place the ramekins in the baking tin. I needed to use two tins, one 8'' square another smaller one.

Have some very hot water on sim on your stove, better more than less. A tea kettle will be perfect! The water has to later come halfway up the ramekins when you keep them in the baking tin.

Have on hand a pair of mittens or thick kitchen towels.

Helps to have your microwave or OTG at a comfortable level as its dangerous to lift up the tin with the hot water.

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C / 320 degrees F.
  • Place the chopped chocolate in one bowl.
  • In the wide based bowl, whisk the egg yolks and half of the sugar. Set aside (do not leave it sitting for too long as a film will develop over the yolks).
  • In the saucepan, bring the milk, the cream, vanilla bean and other half of the sugar to a boil. Pour this over the chopped chocolate and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. If by the time the chocolate melts completely, the mixture cools slightly, heat it again carefully. 
  • Using the ladle, very gradually and slowly, whisking constantly, dribble the hot chocolate mixture into the egg yolks. Dribble all of it gradually. If you rush this process the eggs will curdle.
  • Strain the custard through the strainer into a bowl.
  • Pour the custard into the ramekins just a little below the rim. The custard doesn't rise, it just sets as it bakes.
  • Taking care not to splash the water into the ramekins, carefully pour the hot water in the baking tin so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.(You could first place the baking tin the oven and then pour the hot water, but this is not possible in my small oven or even the microwave, the rack may tilt in the process). 
  • Open the oven door (If baking for the Valentine, have him stick around and hope he will be chivalrous enough to open at least the oven door for you!) Now place the tray carefully in the oven.
  • Bake the custard in the water bath for about 25-30 minutes or until the center appears set, but jiggly when you gently shake the ramekins. The baking time depends on the size of your ramekins and your oven, so watch carefully from 20 minutes onwards. Do not over bake or your custard may turn rubbery. Err on the side of under baking as the custard will set further on refrigeration. I normally remove the ramekins from the water bath soon after as I am scared it will continue to cook in the hot water.
  • Cool the custards to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight for best results. I must mention, I don't like these warm! The chocolate flavor is more intense on chilling.
  • Chill for at least 3-4 hours or even better overnight or even a day! This will allow the custard to set well and allow the flavors to mature.
Please note : The baking time is very important for the best texture of the custards. The custard  may appear to need more baking (but it should not be liquid or gooey)  if you spoon out some when warm, but it will set well on refrigeration. So slight under-baking is better than over-baking.

If baking in a very small OTG (not microwave) there is a risk of uneven baking, a convection microwave works better here as your tin rotates while baking.

We loved the custard chilled, it was indeed really good! Hubby loved it, son ate it very slowly, savoring every quarter spoonful (can't let it get over too soon!) that went into his mouth till the bowl was squeaky clean. He even proudly showed it to me, saying there was no real need to wash the ramekin! Yes, its real rich, delicious chocolatey smoothness. Thanks to Deeba, I have another keeper of a chocolaty recipe, one I shall be making again and again.

Please note: I have used 85 grams of yolk as given in the original recipe.  I would not skimp on the yolks, and no there was no eggy smell. Use whole milk and not skimmed or low fat, it does help to get a good consistency. Do strain the custard to get a really smooth custard.

Now, if you have all the ingredients on hand, you really do not have an excuse to not bake these right away and treat your Valentine to some chocolate indulgence today.


Divya Kudua said...

I am yet to muster up courage for egg yolk based desserts.Looks awesome though,anything chocolate can never go wrong.Happy Valentines Day!!

Aruna Manikandan said...

looks yummy :)

FewMinute Wonders said...

Delicious looking pots of chocolate. Enjoy!

Tina said...

Rich and delicious...

Deeba PAB said...

You make me want to get up and make some right away! My hub just got in from B'lore this morning, and would definitely eat these in a heartbeat!No whole milk at home, but I think I want to make these asap! Thank you for using my recipe Suma! Big hugs...and now off to check out that thyme!

divya said...

Happy Valentine's day.. look gorgeous..

simran said...


Sum said...

Ahhh the pics are soooo tempting!

Anne John said...

Hi Suma,

Hope all is well with you. I am writing on behalf of Women's Web, an online magazine based out of India, with a wide range of content relevant to the Indian woman of today.

I would like to know if you would be interested in writing a guest post for our Food Column, Eatopia.It is one of our popular sections and we are looking to expand it, with a new guest writer each month both because readers seem to enjoy it, and because we want to offer different perspectives (food types, sub-cultures, writing types etc).

The choice of topic is largely open to you; the only criteria being that we need an engaging story as well as an interesting recipe to go with it. We are also open to suggestions, if you have any.

Do let me know if you are interested, and we'll take it from there.
Looking forward to your reply.
Content Manager@Women's Web

Anne John said...

P.S: My email id, in case you are interested is anne.john@womensweb.in

M D said...

That's beautifully presented Suma, surely delicious too!

Unknown said...

Beautiful post. M surely going to try this weekend..like you said " if you have all ingredients on hand, you really do not have an excuse" :)

saffronstreaks said...

I often bakes thes choco pots, so comforting and easy, loved your presentation and oh ya delcious too

Torviewtoronto said...

dessert looks wonderful

Archana said...

Divine just divine! what I will die for or kill for depending on who is holding this dessert:)

I will make this by and by need the courage and the ingredients :D