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Mexican Chocolate Pots de Crème

May 7, 2012

Lately, I’ve been craving chocolate.

Like, head over heels crazy, can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head craving.

And as I was watching the recipes floating around in anticipation of Cinco de Mayo, I had been gearing up to make Margarita Cupcakes.  But with no chocolate to speak of, I found that my heart just wasn’t in them.  Still, for some reason, I didn’t want to let it go.  I started thinking about the inspiration- to transform a delicious drink into an even more delicious dessert, and I thought: Mexican Chocolate!  The specialty hot cocoa is a favorite drink of mine in the fall, what with its warm, spicy, earthy flavors mixed with smooth creamy milk.  The perfect transformation: pots de crème!

I found the basic recipe in several blogs and websites all over the internet, and simply adjusted it to fit my family size (four servings rather than six).  I also added a hint of cayenne to really ring out the message that this is Mexican chocolate.  Other great additions might be espresso powder, vanilla bean, or orange zest- you can play with whatever you like.  The Mexican chocolate is pre-sweetened so you won’t need to add any sugar.

 

These tasty treats are a miracle of texture.  Where usual pots de crème have a smooth texture like firm pudding, these are slightly fluffy- a result of using the grainier disks of Mexican chocolate in addition to smooth melting bittersweet chocolate.  The final product is somewhere between a custard and a mousse; sweet, dark, with a kick of spice.  Seriously, you have to try this!

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Mexican Chocolate Pots de Crème
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup whole milk
⅓ cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz Mexican chocolate, finely chopped
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch salt

½ cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon sugar

Method

  1. In a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan, combine milk and cream.  Gradually bring to simmer over medium-high heat. Watch your pot carefully- do not let the milk reach a full boil!
  2. In a small bowl, gently beat egg yolks just to combine.  While whisking with one hand, pour about ⅓ cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolks to temper them.  Then add the egg mixture back into the saucepan.  Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately stir in bittersweet chocolate, Mexican chocolate, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Pour chocolate custard mixture through a fine mesh sieve to remove any accidental scrambled egg bits and then distribute evenly into 4 small bowls, mugs, or ramekins.  Refrigerate until firm, at least three hours or for up to three days.
  3. Just before serving, combine whipping cream and sugar in a chilled glass or metal bowl and whip just until soft peaks begin to form.  Dollop whipped cream on top of the pots de crème and dust with ground cinnamon.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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On buying and storing Mexican Chocolate:  In the US, Mexican Chocolate is most often sold as bars or disks intended to be used in making hot cocoa.  It can be found in Mexican markets and specialty shops (try World Market) or online.  Made from cocoa nibs ground with sugar and spices (most often cinnamon, vanilla, and/or almonds), it is brittle, gritty, and not intended to be eaten like smooth European chocolate bars.  Because it contains no added cocoa butter or milk products, Mexican chocolate has a long shelf life when kept in a cool, dry place like the pantry or cupboard- I store mine along with teas and coffees.  But like any form of chocolate, it will lose aroma (and therefore flavor) as it sits.  Once a package has been opened, you should use that disk within a month.  Unopened, Mexican chocolate can last a year or more.

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