Chocolate Pots de Crème:
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy "whipping" cream (35-40% butterfat content)
1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk (full fat)
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso powder (optional)
2 ounces (60 grams) semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 large egg (50 grams without shell) plus 2 large egg yolks (35 grams), room temperature
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Pots de Crème: Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C) and have the oven rack in the center of the oven. Place 4 - 1/2 cup (120 ml) ovenproof dishes or ramekins in a large shallow pan.
In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring the cream, milk, coffee powder, and chocolate just to a simmer (the cream just begins to bubble around the edges).
Meanwhile in a heatproof bowl beat the egg, egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale (about 1-2 minutes). (You can do this with a wire whisk or hand mixer.) Gradually pour the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, making sure you keep whisking constantly so the eggs don't curdle. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the mixture back into your saucepan, and stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof spatula, heat the mixture just until hot to the touch. Strain into a large measuring cup or pitcher and then evenly pour the cream into the ramekins. Prepare a water bath (bain marie) by carefully pouring enough boiling water so that the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover with a large piece of aluminum foil, cutting a few slits in the foil to allow the steam to escape. Bake for about 30 - 40 minutes (baking time can vary depending on size of ramekins and temperature of water) or just until the Chocolate Pots de Crème are set (they will still wobble a bit in the center).
Immediately remove the Chocolate Pots de Crème from the water bath and cool to room temperature on a wire rack (about one hour). Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight, or until cold and firm. Can be served with whipped cream. At this point they can be stored (covered) in the refrigerator for about 5 days. (This recipe can be doubled.)
I have become very fond of these Chocolate Pots de Crème. On the one hand their velvety smooth texture and deep chocolate flavor remind me of a chocolate pudding. Yet their wonderful light and airy texture makes me think more of a chocolate mousse. What I will say is that they are hard to resist and I often find myself sneaking a spoonful or two during the day when a chocolate craving hits. Chocolate Pots de Crème make a perfect "do ahead" dessert, as they can be made and refrigerated for up to five days. I really don't think they need an accompaniment, but you could serve them with whipped cream or crème fraiche, with maybe a crisp shortbread cookie on the side.
Chocolate Pots de Crème means "chocolate pots of cream" and is pronounced "Poh - duh - krem". This lovely dessert is so named because they were originally made in small individual pots, each with its' own lid. The advantage of the lid was to prevent a skin from forming on the top of the chocolate cream as it baked. Even though you may not be able to find these special little pots, you can still make this recipe by using small heatproof ramekins or bowls covered with a piece of aluminum foil. Now, some recipes tell you to make the Chocolate Pots de Crème on the stovetop as you would a chocolate pudding. But my preference is to bake them in the traditional way, in the oven, in a water bath (bain marie). The water bath provides an gentle even heat that prevents the eggs from curdling. And the moisture gives these chocolate creams their light and airy texture, that is similar to a mousse. Bake them just until they are set, yet the centers are still a little wobbly. Let them cool completely (at least an hour) before covering and placing in the refrigerator, as this will prevent condensation (droplets of water) from forming on the tops of the puddings. I prefer to chill the Chocolate Pots de Crème in the refrigerator overnight before serving, as I find this allows the chocolate flavor to soften and to blend with the other flavors.
A few notes on ingredients. Chocolate is what gives these Pots de Crème their great flavor, so choose your chocolate wisely. I prefer a good semi sweet chocolate with a percentage of between 58 and 60%. However, you could use up to a 70% bittersweet chocolate. I have also added a little instant espresso powder (or instant coffee powder) as I find it highlights and adds depth to the chocolate flavor. However you can leave it out.