They say that the heat in hot spices and elements in chocolate are aphrodisiac foods. Why not, then, combine them into one fabulous dessert for Valentine’s Day? This chocolate pot de crème is a rich, pudding-like dessert that has deep notes of cocoa, chili pepper, vanilla, and cinnamon – enough stimulation for your taste buds and perhaps your heart, too.
I am pleased to present this Chocolate Valentine post and share this delightful chocolate lover’s dessert with you in conjunction with several other bloggers, hosted by the wonderful Kate at Serendipity. I was honored to have been asked to participate in this fun event, and I’m so excited to read all the others’ tales and recipes. Love is in the air!
I have to admit, I struggled to make a recipe that starred chocolate, was appropriate for Valentine’s Day, and actually turned out. Some of my favorite chocolate recipes use cocoa powder but no actual chocolate – yet they still fabulously scream chocolate. Last week I test drove a recipe for milk chocolate pots de crème which, despite being featured in Food & Wine magazine from Le Bernadin restaurant in NYC, was a disaster. It was bland and never set up in the oven. Enter recipe number two, also from that issue of F&W.
This recipe called for Ibarra Mexican chocolate, which is known for its cinnamon, vanilla, and almond notes. Well, finding that chocolate is pretty hit-or-miss here in New Jersey. There are quite a lot of Mexican, Puerto Rican, and Central American immigrants in this area, so our local Shop-Rite stores do carry a fairly extensive “Ethnic” section – essentially Goya’s entire line of foods and a few smaller range of Asian selections. I’ve seen Ibarra chocolate a few times, but, just my luck, there was none on the shelf when I shopped for this recipe. So, I made alterations; that’s more my style, anyway. My version packs a bit of a punch from chili-infused dark chocolate, as well as additions of Bourbon vanilla and Vietnamese cinnamon. It’s perhaps a bit more “in your face” than the original, but I like it. It says “Hey! Here I am!” and “You feel me here, right? Ooh! Spicy!” Insert lewd Valentine’s Day dating comment here….
A few notes about making pots de crème: be careful to cool the scalded milk a bit so it doesn’t curdle the egg yolks. Yes, I did that the first time around! Second, since this doesn’t bake, the taste of this dessert comes strongly from the chocolate you use. A good bittersweet is essential; I like Ghirardelli. As for the spiced chocolate, I like Lindt’s Chili dark chocolate. If you can find Ibarra chocolate, though, use it by all means instead of the chili-infused chocolate and nix the added vanilla and cinnamon. Finally, play with the whipped cream’s flavoring if you like; I sweetened it lightly with powdered sugar and splashed in vanilla extract, but you can add cinnamon, vanilla beans, or even pepper itself if you want.
Mexican chocolate pots de crème with whipped cream (adapted from Food & Wine)
This recipe makes three pots de crème – enough for you, your sweetheart, and a spare. If you use Vietnamese cinnamon like I did, reduce the amount to a bit over 1/8 teaspoon.
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 oz chili-spiced dark chocolate, finely chopped (plus extra for serving)
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 tsp powdered sugar
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks until they lighten slightly. While whisking, add 1/2 cup of the warm milk in a slow stream. Transfer the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until the custard thickens, about 2 minutes.
Remove the custard from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir the chocolates until fully melted, then add the vanilla and cinnamon. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into three ramekins, then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.
Whip the cream with the powdered sugar and vanilla extract until medium peaks form. Spoon a dollop of the whipped cream onto each pot de crème, then top with a few bits of finely chopped chili-chocolate.