When I first started baking, I relied heavily on Maida Heatter's wonderful cookbooks. (Her directions are brilliantly clear and easy to follow; the recipes are all delicious--and easy to modify to more modern tastes.) Pots de creme is my go-to recipe for dinner parties--it is rich, chocolaty, easy to make and can be made ahead. (It does dirty a lot of dishes, but the final product is totally worth it.) It is also my husband's favorite dessert. So, with much gratitude to Maida Heatter and my cousin Roberta who introduced me to her, here is my adaptation of her chocolate pots de creme. —drbabs
6- 1/2 cup servings
For the Pots de Creme
large egg yolks, lightly stirred till just blended, and placed in a large mixing bowl
Place a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat oven to 325.
Place heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. Put the milk and chocolate in the top of a large double boiler (I set a large metal mixing bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water.) over hot water on moderate heat.
When a slight skin forms on top of the cream, stir in sugar and salt and remove from the heat.
Stir the chocolate mixture with a small wire whisk until perfectly smooth. Off the heat, very gradually add the hot cream to the chocolate, stirring constantly to keep the mixture smooth. Then gradually stir the chocolate mixture into the egg yolks and stir in the vanilla and spices.
Return the mixture to the top of the double boiler over hot water on low heat, and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
Pour the mixture through a fine strainer into a pitcher. Pour it into the ramekins, filling them about 3/4 full.
Place the ramekins in a shallow baking dish. Pour in hot water to about half the depth of the cups. Cover with a cookie sheet.
Bake for ~20 minutes--the custard should still look soft and creamy when you remove it from the oven. It will firm as it chills.
Remove the cups from the water and let cool on a rack. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.
To serve, lightly whip 1/2 cup heavy cream with sugar and orange extract and zest. Sprinkle each dessert with a little flaky sea salt. Spoon a dollop of whipped cream.