Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chocolat Pots de Crème

A little chocolate custard.
A perfect, creamy, dense chocolateyness.

Chocolat pots de creme are generally served in small portions, like a very nice espresso.
AND they do have their own special piece of china- a little lidded pot in which each is baked and served.
I don't own any of these though, since technically it's not necessary.
(But they are kind of cute... then again, how often would they be used and where would one store them?)

Any small oven-proof bowls will work for this. I just use ramekins... it's what I have for all custards- crème brûlée, flan, vanilla pots de crème, etc.
The custard cups are gently baked in a hot water bath. Well, they were... but I didn't like the way they turned out texturally. I wanted something creamier and a bit less solid.
And so, after making these about 6 times I've found something acceptable (it's been bothering me).
The way I like it best (so far) is using a bain marie on the stove, not a bain marie in the oven.
Either way is an option...
But the stovetop method yields a crème that's like an extremely thick, rich, dark, intense pudding. One that's creamier than the oven version.

I'm not saying it's bad, the texture is just different... the top photo here (with mint) shows an oven-baked crème, and the bottom photo shows a crème that was cooked over a water bath on the stove.

Make sure you go with a really good dark chocolate.

The baked version is adapted from Joël Robuchon's version
The stovetop version is a derivation of that adaptation.

Petit Chocolat Pots de Crème
makes 6

1/2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
4 oz bittersweet chocolate (60-70%), chopped
1/2 t instant coffe or espresso granules (optional)
1/4 c sugar
4 large egg yolks
pinch of salt
1/2 t vanilla

Fill a medium pan with about 2 inches of water and bring to a simmer. Find a medium-sized bowl that fits over the top of the pan without the bottom of it touching the water. Pour the milk and cream into the bowl and add the chopped chocolate and coffee granules (if using). Stir occasionally with a whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is very smooth.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla. Do not whisk so much that the eggs become frothy- you just want everything broken down and well incorporated.
Using a ladle, slowly pour about 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture to temper, all the while whisking. Once the chocolate has been added to the eggs, pour the egg/chocolate mixture back into the chocolate bowl which should still be over the pan of simmering water. Whisk to incorporate.
Continue stirring the mixture constantly for several minutes until it has thickened and reaches about 170 degrees F (or it visibly thickens considerably, and feels and looks like a glossy pudding).
Ladle the chocolate into 6 patiently waiting ramekins. When all the ramekins have been filled, rap each dish on the counter a few times to help dislodge any bubbles. Refrigerate several hours until set and very cold.
Serve cold
as they are, or with a dollop of whipped cream and shavings of chocolate.
Oven version:

Rinse a medium saucepan under cold running water and empty, but DO NOT DRY.
Pour the milk into the saucepan bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add the chocolate and carefully stir until completely melted and smooth, then add the cream and stir again until incorporated. Set aside to cool a bit.
Place the yolks, sugar, salt, vanilla, and coffee (if using) in a bowl and beat slightly until broken up and combined. Whisk constantly and slowly pour in a little bit of the thick chocolate milk to help "loosen" the thick yolk and sugar mixture. Add the rest of the chocolate milk and whisk again to combine.
Set the mixture aside to rest 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Pour the mixture through a strainer to remove any bits of unincorporated egg and chocolate.
Divide the mixture among 6 ramekins, and place the ramekins in a 9x13 inch dish. Pour boiling water into the pan halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Cover the whole pan with plastic wrap and bake about 25 minutes (the custards should be jiggly). Remove the ramekins from the water, cool to room temperature, cover individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
Serve well chilled.


  1. Finally, chocolate again!

  2. yeah, but this chocolate is so excellent, so wonderful rich without being heavy that it's really a pain to have always these mini portions. One thing is indispensable: you lose 1/2 of the experience if you don't prepare whipped cream and put it on top. Chocolate heaven.

  3. Agreed. Freshly whipped cream can be placed in the strongly recommended to fairly necessary category.
    Is it the contrast?

  4. YES, color contrast for the eye and taste contrast too---BRILLIANT!

  5. Does a skin form on the top of these like a pudding does? Does either version (oven or stove top) make this not happen? I don't mind it so much, but some don't care for it. What are your thoughts on this or how to prevent it? Thanks!

  6. I know what you're saying.
    I'd say that you're less likely to get the skin on the top of the oven-baked version, but that's only because of the consistency difference from the cooking method. It's a little more dense. However, to me, the top layer on the stove top version is more like fudginess than an actual skin.
    One thing that can help prevent the formation of a skin is to cover the ramekins with plastic wrap once they're cool. You could do it before they're cool, but then you'll have condensation formation. It won't change the taste, but it might look a little different. Then again, whipped cream can make a nice camouflage...

  7. I've made a few changes to the recipe...