Makes 6 six-ounce servings, or 8 four-ounce servings.
I’ve always been uneasy with the title “Pots de Creme,” probably because it sounds so pretentious. But it’s just French for “cream pot” so I don’t know why it bugs me so much. A pot de creme is a sort of intermediate step between pudding and custard. It’s delicate like a pudding, but baked in a water bath and set lightly, like a custard. Rich, indulgent, and delicious. And the addition of cayenne pepper gives a surprising and refreshing bite and heat to an otherwise sinfully rich, velvety dessert.
At a recent FRANK, we served these for dessert, alongside a crispy almond nutmeg cookie and some chocolate covered ants. (Okay…it was Halloween.) Many of our diners said it was their favorite dessert they’ve EVER had. So I’m publishing the recipe for the pots for those who’d like it.
In the heaviest pot you have (I use an enameled cast iron Dutch oven), combine:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped or in chips (I recommend Valrhona or El Rey if you can find it)
Over medium heat, stirring frequently, heat until the chocolate is melted. Switch to a whisk once this begins to happen, and whisk well to incorporate the chocolate. Remove the pot from the heat. In a separate bowl, whisk:
6 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon instant coffee
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (taste after adding half a teaspoon, add more if your palate wants it)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Ladle a bit of the hot milk chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and whip it to thin it out. Then pour the egg into the chocolate and whisk thoroughly to combine. Taste it. Depending on your palate, you may want a bit more heat, or a bit more sweet. Strain the mixture to remove any egg solids, or blend well with an immersion blender. This mixture can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days before baking.
To bake, bring a pot of water to a boil on the stovetop, and preheat the oven to 325F. Arrange six 6 ounce ramekins (or eight 4 ounce ramekins) in a glass baking dish(es). Pour the filling into the dishes carefully. Place the dish into the oven and carefully pour or ladle the boiling water into the dish until it comes halfway up the side of the ramekins, and carefully push the rack back into the oven to avoid spilling the water.
Bake until the custards are slightly jiggly but the surface is set. This takes about 40 minutes for 4oz ramekins, 50 minutes for 6oz. VERY carefully remove the custards from the water bath. (Canning tongs are enormously useful for this.) Let them cool to room temp. Refrigerate them for up to 3 days before serving, but let them come to room temp before you eat them…the flavor is much better.
For serving, you can dust powdered sugar on top, or sprinkle a bit of very coarse sea salt for a lovely contrast.