Friday, August 5, 2011

Chocolate Pot de Creme

My copy of Joy of Cooking is missing. Worse, it's been missing for a while. I think it's been missing since I received it as a present for Christmas several years ago. Is it in a box, packed up in the basement at my parents' house? Or did I leave it behind one of the four times I've moved since I received it? I may never know the answer.

Either way, Irma Rombauer and her influential text, Joy of Cooking, are never far from my mind.

Gourmet Magazine named Irma S. Rombauer number nine on their list of 50 women game-changers in food history. In selecting Rombauer, they wrote, "In all its eight versions, and in all its 75+ years (and counting), Joy of Cooking is arguably the essential American cookbook. Irma wrote (and published) the first version in 1931, giving birth--literally--to a culinary dynasty."

Knowing Rombauer's influence on American cuisine and her ability to capture and translate restaurant staples for our home tables, I turned to her when attempting my first pot de creme.

Pot de creme seem like the current dessert of choice at many new American restaurants across New York City. I had a delicious chocolate pot de creme at James. Rose Water Restaurant served us a chocolate cardamom pot de creme with a citrus whipped cream and an orange pistachio biscotti (definitely worth the trip!). A visit to Maze during Restaurant Week finished with a chocolate pot de creme that was complimented by a small scoop of green cardamom, caramel, sea salt and almond ice cream. Dreamy, to say the least.

I decided to keep my first attempt simple. I would just make a chocolate pot de creme. I'd prepare a simple cookie crumble to go with it (more on that later).

I prepared an easy water bath for the custards, lining the pan with a towel, adding the custard dishes so they did not touch each other, and carefully, oh, so carefully, pouring in the boiling water so it didn't spill.

Rombauer would call my custard a compromise custard. It's not quite as delicious as the full-fat version, made with half-and-half, but it's not as weak as the low-fat version made with low-fat milk and egg whites. I tried to strike a happy balance with the use of whole milk and egg yolks.

Be sure to visit the other bloggers who cooked recipes by Irma Rombauer this week!

Val -  More Than Burnt Toast   Lemon Meringue Pie
Joanne - Eats Well with Others  White Gazpacho
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden  Swedish Meatballs
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey       
Heather - girlichef  Oatmeal Molasses Bread
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney  Hushpuppies
Janette - Healthy Living Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes, Capers and Basil
April - Abby Sweets
Mary - One Perfect Bite  Shrimp and Grapefruit Cocktail
Kathleen - Bake Away With Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island Lightening Cake

Chocolate Pots de Creme
recipe from Joy of Cooking 

6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 cups whole milk (or half-and-half)
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together 6 large egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa.

Stirring, bring to a simmer in a small saucepan 2 cups whole milk (or half-and-half). Add two ounces finely chopped bittersweet chocolate to the simmering milk, and whisk until smooth.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the egg mixture. Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl with a pouring lip. Skim off any foam with a spoon. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Pour the mixture into six 4-ounce pots-de-creme cups or ramekins. Put the lids on the cups or seal the ramekins tightly with aluminum foil tops to prevent a skin from forming. Bake in a water bath until set, but still quivery, about 35 to 35 minutes.

Remove from the water bath and let cool for 30 minutes, and then refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.


  1. They look perfectly Pots de Creme to me! I have made them (not this recipe but others) a few times now and they disappear super guys just love them. Have you gone online and googled pots de creme pots to see the little pots for them...they are so cute and some are so expensive! If I was going to make it a lot and I mean A LOT, I would invest in some fabulous pots to serve it in...sometime when you are sitting around googling, give a look see and tell me what you think!

  2. You're so right about pots of creme being very in right now. In Vancouver at Chambar I had a milk chocolate pot of creme that was the best dessert I've had in a long time.. and I'm not even a chocolate fan. Your post is making me want to pull out my joy of cooking and get in the kitchen

  3. Oh boy! I do love a rich chocolate treat to top off a nice meal! Even though you started with the basic Pots de Creme, you can't go wrong! It's a classic and when done well, it always impresses the person and the taste buds! Yum!

  4. I haven't had Chocolate Pot de Creme in years, but I remember dreaming of making these as a young girl.Lovely recipe to try in honor of Irma S. Rombauer.

  5. They look, how did they taste??

  6. This really is a special dessert that will WOW rgem without spending all day in the kitchen.

  7. Wow, those totally looks creamy and delicious! I would go for either version ;) Maybe your book will turn up now that you've passed the "Irma" week. That's the way it'd work for me, at least.

  8. Thanks, Abby! They tasted almost perfect. The top layer was a bit off because I think a drop or two of water got in some of them from the water bath, but I was happy with them overall!

  9. Kayte--I've never looked up pot de creme cups, but now I'm going to have to. The illustrations of the cups in Joy of Cooking were just delightful!

  10. I've never tried making chocolate pot de creme, but it sounds/looks a lot like a chocolate version of creme brulee, which I love. I'll have to try these sometime (:

  11. I've, uh...never actually had a pot de creme...but I'm not quite sure what I've been doing without one in my life! These look amazingly luscious! Irma would be proud.

  12. Katie, These look so incredible! So creamy! Love the compromise custard! Perfect!! I have two copies of "Joy of Cooking" given to me for a shower gift many years ago and a newer edition...that I just had to have!

  13. I don't know what I'd do without my Joy of Cooking -- it's definitely my most-used cookbook!