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Chocolate Pots de Crème

Making pot de crème is surprisingly easy and when the best ingredients are used, it never fails to be delicious.  Also, if kept wrapped and refrigerated, it can be made up to 3 days in advance, thus making it the perfect end to a dinner party.

The finished dessert can be served in a variety of containers, but beware, it is very rich.  Therefore, a relatively small container would be my preference.   The recipe makes about 30 fluid ounces  Pour water into the container of your choice and measure the amount of ounces.  Divide that amount by 30 to get the number of vessels that will be needed.  I used 2-ounce containers and made 15 servings.

Also, instead of spending time finely chopping chocolate with a chef’s knife, I put the larger pieces in a food processor.  Using the metal “S” blade, give it a few pulses and it makes short work to render it all finely chopped.

Makes about 30 fluid ounces

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used Valrhona 65%)
5 large egg yolks, organic if possible
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup half-and-half
½ vanilla bean, split
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Garnishes (optional)
Whipped cream
A dusting of cocoa powder
Sprinkle on a few chocolate shavings

After the chocolate is finely chopped, place it in medium heatproof bowl.  Set a fine-mesh strainer over bowl and set them aside.  In another medium bowl, whisk together yolks, sugar, and salt until combined; whisk in heavy cream and half-and-half.

Transfer mixture, along with the vanilla bean to a medium saucepan.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of pot with a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula until thickened.

The custard should register between 175° to 180° F on an instant-read thermometer and should take about 8 to 12 minutes.  Do not let the custard simmer or it will become grainy due to the egg yolks curdling.

Immediately pour the hot custard through the strainer and over the chocolate.  Let the mixture stand to melt the chocolate, about 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then stir in the espresso.  Divide mixture evenly among individual ramekins/vessels. Gently tap each one to remove air bubbles.

Cool pots de crème to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or up to 3 days.  Before serving, let pots de crème stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes.

Serve with your favorite garnish.