I’m obviously a sucker for punishment. I mean, I’ve been swamped on both the work and life fronts, and yet here I am signing up for yet another monthly blogging event.
On the other hand, this event happens to be hosted by the lovely Kita of Pass the Sushi, who is totally the cat’s pyjamas as far as I’m concerned… so there was no way I wasn’t hopping on this bandwagon as it rolled by. Especially since I can totally relate to her goal, which is to dust off all those cookbooks that are sitting neglected on her bookshelf and finally try those delicious-looking recipes.
So yeah. Expect to see a Pass the Cookbook Club post towards the end of each month, more or less. It’s all pretty laid-back right now, just like Kita.
For our inaugural journey, we’re cooking for The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Food From My Frontier by Ree Drummond. Kita picked three recipes – Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Perfect Potatoes Au Gratin and Pots de Creme.
As you can probably guess from the title of this post, I picked the last option, mostly because I never pass up the opportunity to make something with chocolate.
Traditionally, a pots de creme is an oven-baked custard that’s cooked in a water bath – in other words, it’s basically a creme brulee without the delicious burnt-sugar topping.
Somewhere along the way, though, some genius realised you could get a perfectly reasonable fascimile by buzzing together eggs, chocolate and hot cream in a blender, and the refrigerating until set. This person is obviously deserving of sainthood, along with the inventor of the dishwasher and the fashionista who made it cool to wear rainboots in public. (Whoever you are, you wonderful ingenious people you, I am deeply indebted to you all.)
The Pioneer Woman’s version takes it one step further and replaces the cream with piping hot coffee. This results in a pot de creme with a deep, dark chocolatey flavour and way less calories than the real deal. (Of course, if you want to be nitpicky, that also means it’s not really a pot de creme so much as it is a pot de café… but that’s just details.)
Oddly enough, the coffee flavour isn’t particularly noticeable in the end product… it just gives the chocolate a little more oomph, which, for a coffee junkie like me, is something of a disappointment.
So, on my second go-round, I decided to add a spoonful of instant espresso powder to make a version with a true mocha flavour. And then, while I was at it, I added a dash of cinnamon, because everyone knows that the only thing better than chocolate and coffee is chocolate and coffee and cinnamon.
And because I’m a chocolate snob, I also decided put the chocolate chips back in the cupboard and chopped up a bar of proper dark chocolate instead. (There’s a time and place for chocolate chips, but this recipe ain’t it. When the chocolate the main ingredient, I firmly believe in busting out the good stuff.)
And then last, but definitely not least, I cut everything in the recipe by half. Because really, unless you’ve got an entire ranch to feed, when was the last time you needed 10-12 portions of dessert? My version below makes six very reasonable portions, which are a little smallish but still pack a wallop… especially once they’re topped with a huge dollop of whipped cream.
Let me tell you… this is totally my kind of dessert. It’s ridiculously easy, deeply chocolatey, and decadently rich.
Best of all, it’s not overly sweet, because dark chocolate has a much lower sugar content than semisweet chocolate chips, which is just the way I like it. (If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can add a tablespoon or two of sugar in with the chocolate and eggs.)
In other words, it’s probably a good thing I didn’t make a full batch, or else I’d be in a chocolate coma. :)
- 6 oz good-quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp instant espresso powder
- Pinch salt
- 4 oz very hot fresh-brewed coffee
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tbsp sugar
- Dash cinnamon
- In a blender, combine chocolate, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, espresso powder and salt. Pulse 5-7 times, or until the chocolate is finely chopped and eggs are frothy.
- Turn the blender on low speed, and slowly pour in the coffee in a steady stream. The heat of the coffee will melt the chocolate, creating a smooth, thick custard.
- Pour the custard into 6 serving dishes, distributing evenly (you can use small mason jars, ramekins, pretty tea cups or whatever else catches your eye). Arrange the filled dishes on a tray and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours or until firm.
- When ready to serve, whip the cream to soft peaks. Add sugar, and whisk until incorporated. Spoon a large dollop of cream onto each pot de creme, and finish with a sprinkle of cinnamon. Serve immediately.