Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chocolate Amaretto Pots de Crème

Chocolate Amaretto Pots de Crème.  This just might be the richest, most indulgent dessert I've made to date so far.  That's saying a lot, and is possibly not true.  I've made my fair share of over the top decadent desserts (like this Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart), but I feel like this is unquestionably somewhere near the top of the list of decadent desserts, if not number one.  Trust me when I say that this is one dessert that's so rich and delectable, you'll need someone to share it with.

What better occasion to share an over-the-top, rich, dreamy, intense chocolate dessert with someone than Valentine's Day?  Am I right, or am I right?  These little chocolate pots de crème are an adorable and unforgettable way to end a special Valentine's Day meal.  Then again, I'm sure that if you're an anti-Valentine's Day/Singles Awareness Day celebrator, this rich dessert would be a perfect fit for you too.  What better way to say you're single and loving life than eating making an incredible dessert and eating it too?  Whatever camp you're in, this is one dessert that you've simply got to make and experience for yourself.

I'd never tasted, let alone made pots de crème before this past weekend.  I sort of chose the dessert blindly, because I'd seen it and heard great things about it before, but the "pot de crème" itself was a mystery to me that I didn't really understand.  Was it a pudding?  Was it something like a flan?  I don't really like flan...so maybe I wouldn't like a pot de crème.  But then again...this was chocolate...so was it like a chocolate flan?  Would I like it more then? I had no idea, but I knew I had to give it a shot anyway.  Now that I've experienced this dessert (that's the best way to describe it, it's truly an experience to enjoy), I've become a cooked custard convert.  This is the type of dessert that, upon your first spoonful, will make your eyes light up and you'll just think, "wow."  That was how I reacted, in any case.  

While this dessert is amazing simply thanks to how it tastes, what really helps to make it even more spectacular is how simple the recipe is to put together.  There's literally only FIVE ingredients (six, if you include the amaretto, although that's entirely optional), and it takes about 15 minutes to mix up.  That's it!  You're really just making a custard base, so it's pretty much like making an ice cream, if you think about it.  You start out by warming milk and cream together in a saucepan, and then they get poured over coarsely chopped dark chocolate, similar to how you'd make a ganache.  Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, a mixture of beaten egg yolks and sugar is ever so slowly whisked into the warm chocolate cream.  Once that's smooth, you can add some flavoring to make the pots de crème a little extra special.  I chose to use amaretto, because I love the combination of almonds and chocolate, but any liqueur will do (I think Grand Marnier would be fantastic in this!). You can of course leave the liqueur out, if you don't consume alcohol.  I can promise you that these chocolate pots de crème will be just as amazing without it!

The pots de crème then get baked in a water bath for about an hour, and then need to be promptly placed in the refrigerator to chill for several hours.  The pots de crème firm up just slightly, but remain completely soft when you dig in with a spoon.  The pots de crème are beautifully light in texture, but are oh so rich in flavor.  They're intensely chocolatey, and this is one dessert that is not for the faint of heart.  Denser than a mousse and richer than a pudding, they're slightly reminiscent of the inside of a chocolate truffle.  I can't think of a more perfect dessert for Valentine's/Single's Awareness Day.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Amaretto Pots de Crème
recipe modified slightly from Epicurious


2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
5 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons amaretto


Begin by preheating the oven to 325 degrees F and positioning a rack in the middle of the oven.  

Add the heavy cream and milk to a heavy saucepan and set over medium heat.  Bring the mixture to a simmer, and then remove from the heat.  Whisk in the chopped chocolate until smooth.  Let the chocolate mixture sit for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.  In the meantime, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a separate bowl. Very gradually, add the egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture, making sure to whisk constantly.  Whisk in the amaretto.  Pour the mixture through a strainer into another bowl.  Cover the mixture with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic wrap touches the surface of the chocolate milk mixture (this will help to remove any trace of a skin that forms).  Let the mixture cool for ten minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, place 6 3/4-cup ramekins or custard cups into a large baking pan.  Divide the chocolate mixture evenly among the 6 ramekins.  Cover each with foil, and add enough hot water to the baking pan so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cups.  Bake until the custards have set, but the centers still move a little when gently shaken, about 55 minutes.  Remove the ramekins from the hot water, and take off the foil.  Chill the custards completely, at least 3 hours. 

To serve, top with a little whipped cream and chocolate shavings and enjoy!

Makes 6 pots de crème


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