by Stephanie Zonis
Deep, dark, and rich, this tastes like a cross between a pot de creme and chocolate pudding. You'll need four custard cups, each with a 6-ounce capacity. You'll also need a baking pan that can accommodate all four cups without touching and is shallower than the cups, as they bake in a water bath. Because there is no test for doneness (if you test these in the manner usual for baked custards, you'll think they're undercooked), your oven must maintain an accurate temperature.
These would be a perfect ending to a light, springtime meal. The custards can also be prepared a day or three in advance, and they'll sit happily in the fridge until you want to eat them. The ideal accompaniments are lightly sweetened whipped cream and perhaps some chocolate shavings or a few fresh raspberries or strawberries. Please use the best-quality semisweet chocolate you can find for the custards; it really does make a difference.
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 egg yolks, from eggs graded "large"
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. sifted unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Have ready four custard cups, each of 6-ounce capacity. Cover each with a square of aluminum foil, folding any extra down the sides of the cups. Trim the foil so there isn't more than about 1/2 inch of overhang all around. Have ready a baking pan capable of holding all four cups without their touching either each other or the sides of the pan; if the pan is aluminum, sprinkle about 1 teaspoon cream of tartar into the bottom to prevent discoloration as the custards bake. Have ready enough very hot water to fill the baking pan to a depth of one inch. Set all aside. Adjust rack to center of oven; preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Place chopped chocolate in small heatproof bowl. In small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat cream until very hot, stirring occasionally. Pour about half of hot cream over chocolate. Allow to stand for a minute or two, then stir or whisk gently until smooth. (If necessary, place bowl of chocolate over simmering water on low heat (water should not touch bottom of bowl); stir frequently just until melted and smooth, then remove from heat and hot water. Dry bowl bottom and sides.) Gradually stir in remaining hot cream. Chocolate mixture should be warm but not hot.
In small heatproof bowl, beat egg yolks with fork until combined. Stirring constantly, very gradually add warm chocolate mixture. Be sure to scrape bottom and sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Mixture will be thick. Set aside on potholder near stove top.
In clean, small, heavy-bottomed pot, combine sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder, and salt. With spoon, blend well, pressing out as many lumps as possible. Gradually stir in milk; cocoa will probably float to top and there will be undissolved lumps of it—OK. Place over low heat. Stir frequently, scraping bottom and sides of pot with rubber spatula occasionally, until milk is very hot. Remove from heat.
Stirring chocolate-yolk mixture constantly, very gradually add hot milk mixture. Do not beat chocolate-yolk mixture, as you don't want a lot of air in the custard. When all of hot milk mixture has been added, scrape bowl bottom and sides with rubber spatula and stir again briefly. Strain custard through a fine strainer into a liquid measure or small pitcher of at least 2-1/2 cup capacity.
Divide strained custard evenly among custard cups. Let stand 2 minutes; if any foam appears on top of custard, gently spoon it off. Cover custard cups with foil covers.
Place baking pan on oven rack; add enough very hot water to form a thin layer on pan bottom. Gently and carefully place covered custard cups into pan so that they do not touch each other or the sides of the pan. Carefully add enough additional hot water so that it is 1 inch deep in the baking pan (it's helpful to measure the water; if there is too much, baking may be slowed). Bake for 45 minutes.
Using good potholders, remove baking pan, with covered custard cups still in it, to stovetop or cooling rack. Carefully remove custard cups from hot water to cooling rack (an easy way to do this is to use a slotted, broad-bladed, metal spatula). Remove foil covers from custard cups. Top of custards should look quite dark; centers of custards will still be a bit quivery if cups are tapped.
Allow custards to cool briefly at room temperature, then chill at least 4 hours before serving, covering tightly when cold. Store in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Do not freeze. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and fresh raspberries or strawberries.
Copyright © 2000 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created May 2000
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