Imagine me, my puddin’ lovin’ self, when I first discovered Pots de Crème. Especially chocolate Pots de Crème. Now imagine me, my Pots de Crème lovin’ self, when I discovered how easy it was to ramp up chocolate Pots de Crème, transforming an already luscious custard into something as exotic as Chile-Chocolate Pots de Crème, or even Mocha-Sichuan Peppercorn Pots de Crème.
I’ve written before about what a puddin’ lovin’ kid I was in the 1970s. When I was younger I considered pudding the ultimate comfort food. Which might surprise you because when I was a kid pudding came in a box with a bright red (all caps) JELL‑O logo, and was available in two colors: Brown and Yellow (I hesitate to even call them flavors, but technically they were chocolate and vanilla). Even so I loved pudding. So much, that when JELL‑O introduced its instant “just add milk, stir and chill” variety I was so enamored of the stuff that I would often spend my allowance clandestinely purchasing it by the 6‑pack. In hindsight I realize my fascination with pudding wasn’t because I loved the taste (I don’t remember it having any taste). Rather it was the joy I found in the “cooking” of the pudding (behind my mother’s back). Well, that and the texture.
To a kid the creamy, silky texture of pudding is nirvana. However, I’m no longer a kid. Of course instant pudding is no longer in my life. But I’ve also found a replacement for pudding in general in the form of Pots de Crème. Specifically Chile-Chocolate Pots de Crème.
Pots de Crème is a creamier, smoother, silkier adult version of the pudding I loved as a kid. What makes it so superior is its grit-free, starchless texture. The texture comes from baking the custards in small ramekins partially submerged in warm water at a low temperature.
Chile-Chocolate Pots de Crème
Which can be more difficult than it sounds.
The first time I attempted Pots de Crème I filled 4 ramekins with the silken liquid I’d carefully tempered with hot chocolate. I poured boiling water into a roasting pan as directed in the recipe. I then attempted to move 15 pounds of boiling water and its giant turkey roasting vessel into the oven. Naturally a tiny tsunami occurred. Slosh, bang, boom. The water splattered over the sides creating a blazing hot, slippery puddle on the floor.
Every way I approached the problem presented difficulties.
On the second attempt I added too much boiling water to the roasting pan. Once the steam cleared (and I determined that I had not scalded my face) I discovered my chocolate-filled ramekins were floating around in the water. I swear I filled the pan halfway as directed but, my Pots de Crème had become a fleet that I dubbed the S.S. Pots de Crème. Vessels indeed!
Don’t let my adventures discourage you from trying this recipe for Chile-Chocolate Pots de Crème. Since then, I’ve learned two important things:
- You don’t need to use a roasting pan, save it for Thanksgiving. Choose a pan that’s just large enough to hold all your custard cups without touching. I used an 8‑inch cake pan for these Chile-Chocolate Pots de Crème.
- Oh, don’t bother boiling the water; hot tap is works fine. Save the facial for another day.