There’s no hiding it, I love French food. I’ve taken three trips to Paris in my life. And I can tell you I ate my way through the city, always leaving wanting more. The last two trips came after I studied at the French Culinary Institute, now known as The International Culinary Center, which left me further impressed with what goes into great French cooking. Classic French cuisine goes in and out of popularity, but it is never forgotten. Indeed, while I can think of many cooking trends in my life, the love off French classics always seems to return.
There are some French recipes that are considered critical to know as a chef, and some I feel are essential for any foodie or home cook. Chocolate pots de crème is one of those essential classical French desserts. For those who have never experienced it, a pots de crème is a French custard that was first created back in the 17th century. The name translates to “pot of custard”. It is a simple yet classic treat and it is one of the easiest French deserts to make.
There are many recipes for pots de crème. Many are good, but this one is great. This is Melissa Clark’s recipe, and it is wonderful. Although it is unusual for me when cooking other people’s recipes, I have not adapted a thing in this one, even the recipe is transcribed in Clark’s words, not mine. I believe it is perfect just the way it is. Pots de crème traditionally is served in a small pot (or ramekin). It lighter than other well-known custards, such as flan and crème caramel, which are a bit more common. Pots de crème could not be easier to make.
Like any chocolate-based dessert, chocolate choice is important. That said, I like easy to find ingredients and my go-to chocolate typically is Ghirardelli. Clark uses a nice mixture of bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate to make this recipe on the extra bitter side, which I feel is just the right combination.
The real trick with this recipe is baking the dessert in a water bath, which steams the custards gently and evenly. Because this custard is served chilled, the cooling time adds time to the recipe, but whipping this up takes no time at all. I love pots de crème for dinner parties as this is a fantastic make-ahead dessert option and can easily be done for large groups. But don’t get me wrong, these tasty decadent treats are also wonderful for a cozy family weekend dinner as well.
Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate Pots de Crème
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 Tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- crème fraiche or whipped cream, optional for serving
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. In a heavy saucepan, bring cream and milk to a boil. Remove from heat, and whisk in chopped chocolate until smooth.
- Step 2 In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, sugar, and salt. Whisking constantly, slowly pour hot chocolate into yolks. Strain through a very fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or bowl.
- Step 3 Divide mixture among 5 small ramekins. Set filled cups in a large roasting pan that has been positioned on the center rack of the oven. Add hot tap water to the pan, halfway up sides of cups. Cover the pan with foil, use a fork to prick holes in foil.
- Step 4 Bake until edges are lightly set (lifting the foil to check) but center is still jiggly–it will set as it cools–30 to 35 minutes. Transfer cups to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate at least 3 hours before serving with creme fraiche or whipped cream.