If you’re counting every calorie, you know you don’t want to waste any. No point, for instance, in a fast-food franchise brownie but every reason to indulge in my friend Jamie’s ridiculously good and simple chocolate pots de creme.
Literally, pots of custard or cream, this dessert dates back to the Middle Ages when the French did not have chocolate chips and custards were usually baked in a water bath. This is easier.
If I can make it a once- or twice-a-year indulgence, like ham, say, I can enjoy it, re-file the recipe and have it again next year. It’s so rich it’s also possible to enjoy only part of a serving, I suppose, but I’m not yet that evolved. I fell face forward into my complete serving and never looked back. Until it was gone. To my credit, I did stay out of the leftovers and beg He Who Is “Goosing His Metabolism” By Giving Up Honeybuns the Size of Dinner Plates to polish them off.
Metabolism goosing has been discussed lately because I think only by shocking my system with new and increased workouts can I lose weight (for example, the two pounds lost last week after a month of staying the same). “The Biggest Loser” has people in the gym three hours in the morning and again in the afternoon. I walked 3 24-minute miles in the rain yesterday. My husband gives up pastries bigger than his head. Life is not fair, but it is sometimes unexpectedly good.
A double boiler makes things easier, but you can improvise one if necessary with a small pan over a pot of boiling water. The problem: Without the tight seal of the double boiler, you’re more likely to steam the cook’s hands along with the cream and chocolate.
So here’s the recipe. Serve with additional slightly sweetened whipped cream and perhaps just one crisp shortbread. As I said, it’s a once-a-year thing.
Jamie’s pots de creme
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/3 cup good-quality semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 egg yolks (save the whites for penitent omelets the day after)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Boil water in bottom of double boiler. Mix cream and sugar in top and scald — you don’t want it to boil, but you do want little fizzy bubbles all around the edge. Stir in chips to melt.
Reduce heat slightly. Have whisked egg yolks in medium bowl next to stove and drop spoonfuls of chocolate mixture into yolks, whisking steadily. If you’re not ambidextrous, have your sous chef help out here.
Your goals are to combine the chocolate mixture with the yolks while keeping yolks smooth (not lumpy with bits of cooked yolk). When the yolks are uniformly chocolate brown and hot, put everything back in the top of the double boiler and cook, stirring, until thickened.
Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Divide pudding among 6 ramekins, covering surface of each with plastic wrap to prevent formation of “skin” on cooled desserts if your “pots” aren’t lidded. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to indulge. Serves at least 6!
Bright idea: Next year I serve these in my great-grandmother’s tiny porcelain espresso cups. That way, I eat less and we have gilded saucers for our cookies!