Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Comfort Dessert

Certain themes are recurrent among food bloggers. Currently I seem to read many posts about macarons, financiers, Pierre Hermé recipes, caramel au beurre salé, matcha-tea flavored anything, and more simply, "petits pots de crème".

This last theme attracted me by its simplicity, a dessert that is easy to make, that you can curl up around, and that your kids will like (though mine didn't get much of a taste of them I have to admit). I don't have anything new to contribute on the subject. I can only testify that yes, they are easy to make, and are very satisfying, the way childhood desserts once were. Also, a friend asked me for the recipe, which I might as well post here.

I actually first tried a recipe from Pierre Hermé's Larousse du chocolat, which I received for my birthday and which I've been drooling over these last few weeks. But the pots de crème I made from the book were runny. Did I make a mistake? Probably. Still, the recommended baking temperature of 100°C seems very low. But it didn't help that I used cold water for the water bath, and for some silly reason I added an occasional cup of cold water here and then during the baking, which certainly cooled the oven temperature too much.

My second and successful try was based on a recipe originally from Gourmet magazine, which I found on this blog.

Recipe: Petits pots de crème au chocolat

I won't write it up again as you can view it in both links above (the first is in English, the second in French). I'll just add my two cents:

- Next time I think I'll skip the vanilla bean. It's an expensive ingredient which honestly I couldn't really taste behind the strong chocolate flavor. And I found the grittiness of the vanilla seeds distracting from the smooth texture of the cream.

- I didn't have Valrhona 61% cocoa chocolate. I used Lindt 70%. It still tasted good.

- I used a 150g of chocolate rather than 130g. The result was strong but not excessively chocolaty.

- I did as one commenter recommended: I skimmed the bubbles off the top of the cream (using a soup spoon) before ladling it into the pots. The creams are more esthetic without bubbles. Using a ladle rather than pouring them also helped keep them smooth.

- Also as per this commenter's recommendations, I loosely covered the creams with tin foil during baking and let them cool in their water bath with a clean towel loosely placed on top. This is supposed to prevent on the one hand the formation of a crust, on the other drops of condensation falling back on the creams. It seems to have worked, but I might try without to see if these efforts are truly necessary.

- If they seem to wiggle a lot after an hour of baking, don't worry, they'll firm up in the fridge. Still, they should look quite set along the edges.

- Don't eat them when they're still warm (as I did one...). The texture is nothing like the cooled product. They're a bit runny and glibbery when warm, but silky creamy when cold.

- I might go back and try the Pierre Hermé recipe again as it called for only whole milk, no cream. If I could make the dessert a bit lighter without sacrificing taste, why not.

- A nice container really dresses up these simple desserts. I think you can use your good coffee cups to bake the creams in. Don't come after me if this turns out to be bad advice, but I believe the oven temperature is low enough, and the water bath protects the cups from cracking. I tested with one of my pretty Japanese bowls and it survived well.

The question is, what to do with the leftover egg whites? I hear it's OK to freeze them, which I did (simply put them in a tupperware, and label with the number of egg whites and date). When you need them remember to defrost them in the fridge several hours earlier.

Or else you could make these delicious financiers. (Another recipe in English here).


Anonymous said...

ça a l'air drôlement bon, ce qui n'est pas surprenant. En revanche, ce qui me surprend c'est la qualité des photos. I think we got something there!



Astrid said...

Merci pour l'encouragement! Pour la peine tu auras droit à ton petit pot de crème perso. Mais pour ça il faut rentrer à la maison...

tanya d said...

While I lived in San Francisco, I went through various dessert phases (crème brûlée, bread pudding, rice pudding, panna cotta) and went to lots of restaurants trying to find the best one. One of my last phases before moving was pots de crème au chocolat. I had a lot of fun trying to find the smoothest, most chocolaty one in the city. I even made them myself once and was quite pleased with the results. Thanks for the reminder.

Astrid said...

Thank you for the suggestions for other comfort desserts!

(Actually, I think the first time I heard about "petits pots de crème" was in San Francisco...)

Estelle said...

And with the egg whites, make macaroons!