4. Chocolate Pots De Crème

Pots de crème seem hard to make but they're really not. If you like pudding or custard, you'll love this decadent dessert. If you don't have ramekins, they're easy to find at Target or Walmart, and it's worth having them in the house because once you make this creamy, smooth dessert once and see how quick it is, you'll want to whip it up frequently!

7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups half-and-half
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Set six 4- to 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups in a roasting pan or deep baking dish.

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half, sugar, instant espresso or coffee powder, if using, and salt until quite hot, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot half-and-half mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Let cool until tepid, then whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla. (If the mixture looks at all grainy, whisk well or pur’e in a blender until smooth.)

Transfer the custard mixture to a large measuring cup or pitcher and divide evenly among the ramekins.

Fill the roasting pan or baking dish with warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the perimeters of the custards are just set and the centers are still slightly jiggly, about 35 minutes.

Transfer the custards from the water bath to a wire rack and let cool.

Serving: Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, garnished with small mounds of whipped cream and chocolate shavings


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