After the cupcake deluge last week, I was done with sugar. Or, well, I was done with sugar for a couple of days. As Wonk the Plank will tell you, I have a huge sweet tooth, so this was an unusual occurrence in our household. But eating multiple cupcakes for days on end (how many I’m not even going to say), will force even the most avid sugar enthusiast tot take a break.
If you’re wondering why last week didn’t have a custard project entry – that’s why.
Thankfully, I rallied this weekend. Wonk’s mother was visiting, and I wanted our Sunday night dinner to end with a fabulous and decadent dessert – I can never pass up the opportunity to show off for company. So I served up the second entry in the April Custard Project: Orange Chocolate Pot De Crèmes.
Let me first say that we loved it – I flavored the custard with orange and cinnamon, which married well with the chocolate. But I also especially loved this dessert because it was so simple, and yet so satisfying.
The pot de crème is a classic French dessert – it’s a cream-based custard that is thickened with egg yolks and cooked in small custard cups (think of it as a crème brulee, but without the burnt sugar topping). The pot de crème embodies what I love about many French desserts – it’s a rich and deeply satisfying dessert that is deceptively simple. It can also be adapted to any taste or flavor.
It allows me to show off with relatively little effort.
Begin cooking these a day in advance, since the custard will need time to cool and set. The only part of the recipe that can be a little intimidating is that you must temper the egg mixture before adding it to the hot custard – otherwise, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs in your custard. “Tempering” sounds scary, but all you have to do it quickly add a small amount of hot custard to the yolks and stir vigorously, which cooks the eggs without scrambling them.
Also, you may not want to make the candied orange peel, but I promise you – it’s really not as difficult as it sounds. And it adds a lovely touch and visual interest to the final dish – well worth the small amount of effort it takes.
Orange Chocolate Pot De Creme
Based on this Epicurious recipe.
Candied Orange Peel
3/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
Peel large strips of rind from the orange with a vegetable peeler. Cut the peel into thinner strips, approximately 1/8 inch wide.
Combine water and 3/4 cups sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over medium low heat until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 minutes. Add orange peel. Simmer 15 minutes.
Place remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a small bowl. Remove orange peel from syrup with a fork or slotted spoon and place on sugar. Toss to coat. Cool, tossing one or two more times. Cover bowl and let stand overnight, at room temperature.
Pots De Crème
2/3 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs finely grated orange peel
4 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 large egg yolks
3 tbs sugar
1 cup hot water (approximately)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and grated orange peel to boil in heavy saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
In a small bowl, combine yolks and sugar and whisk until pale yellow – about two minutes. Quickly whisk a small amount of the chocolate mixture into egg yolks, to temper. Then whisk egg mixture into chocolate mixture. Strain into a clean bowl.
Divide custard equally between four four-oz custard cups. Place cups in a small baking dish, and pour enough hot water into the baking dish to come halfway up sides of cups. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake until custard is set – 35 minutes.
Remove baking dish from oven. Using tongs, remove cups from baking dish (they will be very hot!). Cool cups in the refrigerator uncovered. Then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold – about six hours.
Serve garnished with candied orange peel.