Have you ever had a pot de creme? If not, I've got your back- the t is silent (those French!). I had not had one before I made these, but had seen them on food shows and in cookbooks/magazines. They didn't strike me as incredibly interesting until around Valentine's I saw an episode of the old Food Network Show, The Best Thing I've Ever Made, the chocolate episode. Aarti Sequeira made these chocolate hazelnut pots de creme and she just raved about them, as did the people who were eating with her. It seemed easy, economical, and impressive, so why not? Drew and I made them for our belated Valentine's Day meal. We are sold.
Think of this as a Nutella-flavored, thick pudding with a spicy kick at the end. They're so good, and to top them with freshly whipped cream, chopped hazelnuts, and some sea salt sends you out of this world. It all seems so simple- chocolate, nutella, heavy cream, and egg yolks. What results, though is a dense, smooth custard that is absolutely packed with flavor and give you some complexity and depth of flavor as your taste buds sense chocolate, hazelnut, and the spicy Sriracha. The whipped cream serves to cut the richness while adding more creaminess, and the salt and hazelnuts just intensify everything. Pardon me while I go make more right now.
These, by the way, are so simple, but are elegant in an understated way. Their individual serving size makes them fun. They can be dressed down by putting them in regular custard cups or even 8 oz Mason jars, or dressed up by putting them in nicer dishes or even pretty stemmed glasses. We made these for our Valentine's date night. I'd definitely make them for a dinner party.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Pots de Creme
from Food Network/ Aarti Sequeira
1 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
3 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate (70 percent and over), chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha sauce
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream or creme fraiche, for topping
Cocoa or grated chocolate, for dusting
Minced hazelnuts, for garnishing
Sea salt, for garnishing
poon the chocolate-hazelnut spread into your blender. Add the chopped chocolate. Set your ramekins/cocottes/teacups/glasses on a baking sheet.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt and egg yolks over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes; I like to use a flat-bottomed wooden spatula so that I can make sure the eggs aren't catching on the bottom and cooking. Cook until the custard thickens, resembling something like very thick paint. It should register between 175 and 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Another test: the custard should coat the back of the spatula, and when you draw a line across the back of the spatula with your (clean!) finger, the line should hold and maintain its edges without running. Remove from the heat immediately.
Now, pour the warm custard through a strainer into the blender. Let it sit 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Add the Sriracha, espresso powder if using and vanilla extract. Then, put the lid on the blender, hold down with a thick kitchen towel, and blend on low, then high, until smooth and combined, scraping down the sides if necessary. Taste for seasoning.
Pour the custard into your containers, tapping them against the rim of the baking sheet to remove air bubbles. Pop them in the fridge and chill until the custards are set, 2 to 3 hours.
Top with whipped cream or creme fraiche, some grated chocolate and minced hazelnuts. A little sea salt would be nice too.
- If you do decide to use whipped cream to garnish your pots de creme, you'll want about 1 1/2 to 2 cups total heavy cream.
- I used a candy thermometer to make sure the temperature of my custard was right.