Chocolate Pots de CremeSeptember 26, 2016
The “food of the gods,” chocolate is native to Mexico where it was consumed by priests and nobility as an unsweetened foamy drink. The Aztecs prepared a highly spiced beverage called xocoatl, with cocoa beans that were roasted, pounded in a mortar and flavored with chiles, vanilla, annatto, and sometimes honey and dried flowers. (Emperor Moctezuma is said to have consumed 50 cups of chocolate a day because he believed it made him more charming and attractive to women.)
Chocolate was introduced to Europe in the 16th century and for centuries it was consumed exclusively by the aristocracy and bourgeoisie as a hot drink. The Spanish and French courts that added sugar, milk and exotic flavorings to it. It was first used for baking in 18th century England. Chocolate in 19th century France was most closely associated with la cuisine bourgeoisie and with the bistros, where chocolate pots de crème would appear on practically every menu.
For the pudding:
2 ¼ cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 large egg
2 large egg yolks
5 ounces bittersweet or dark chocolate chips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
crème Chantilly, for serving
For the crème Chantilly:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of the milk with ¼ cup of the sugar and the salt and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the cocoa powder and the remaining ¼ cup of sugar until blended. Add the remaining ¼ cup of milk and whisk until smooth. Whisk this mixture into the hot milk in the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, whisking constantly, until the pudding is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg with the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot cocoa pudding into the eggs until thoroughly incorporated, then scrape the pudding back into the saucepan. Cook the pudding over moderate heat, whisking constantly, until it just comes to boil, about 2 minutes.
Strain the pudding into a medium heatproof bowl. Add the chocolate chips, butter and vanilla and whisk until the chocolate and butter are melted and incorporated and the pudding is smooth, about 2 minutes.
Transfer the pudding to six 6-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until chilled. Serve with lightly whipped cream dusted with cocoa powder. (The chocolate pudding can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 4 days.)
Prepare the crème Chantilly. In a large mixing bowl, beat the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract together on high speed until soft peaks form in the mixture.
photo credit: Carin Krasner