It would be an understatement to say that I don’t have the most sophisticated of tastes when it comes to food. Don’t get me wrong… I LOVE food, but I am most definitely a “meat and potatoes” comfort food type of gal. I’ll take cheddar cheese over fancy cheese any day, and I’d much rather have a burger and fries than a fancy meat dish. So, it should come as no surprise that my cheesecake-loving self had never had pots de crème before making them at home recently.
I have to admit – I have long wondered what all of the fuss was regarding pots de crème; as far as I was concerned, they sounded just like another chocolate pudding recipe. Oh, how wrong I was… This recipe is approximately a billion times more fantastic than any chocolate pudding I’ve ever tasted.
If you’ve never had pots de crème, they are creamier and richer than pudding, denser than pastry cream, almost like the filling for French silk pie… and yet, still better than all of those things put together. Can you tell that I’m sort of, kind of in love with this newfound dessert of mine? It’s amazing, not to mention that it’s no-bake and can be made days ahead of time.
I may not have much of an advanced palate when it comes to the fanciest of foods, but I can appreciate an outstanding chocolate dessert, and this is one of the most amazing chocolate recipes I’ve ever made. If you haven’t had an opportunity to try pots de creme, do yourself a favor and put it on your immediate to-do list!
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Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and place a fine-mesh sieve on top of the bowl; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Add the heavy cream and half-and-half and whisk to combine. Place the saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the saucepan with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thickened and silky in texture (it should reach 175 to 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer), 8 to 12 minutes. (Keep the heat low enough so that the mixture does not simmer at all.)
Immediately pour the custard through the fine-mesh sieve over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes, then gently whisk until smooth.
In a small bowl, stir together the water and instant espresso powder until dissolved. Add the espresso mixture and the vanilla extract to the chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
Divide the mixture evenly between eight 5-ounce ramekins. Gently tap the ramekins against the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Allow the pots de creme to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days. Let them sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings, if desired.