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change of plans

Recipe: chocolate pots de crème

This was supposed to be a rip-roaring weekend at the House of Butter (or rather, outside of the House of Butter, but you know what I mean). Unfortunately I dashed those plans on the Rocky Shores of Disappointment because I got an infection. Nothing that antibiotics won’t take care of, but it’s a bummer nonetheless. Since I am not supposed to be exposed to direct sunlight during the course of my meds, I worked through the weekend as best I could and managed to discover the surface of my desk. Whoa! That’s a good feeling, especially when I had resigned myself to living with Mount Disaster until mid-November. Jeremy kept me company and worked on his research (and even did some massive internal maintenance on this blog). Kaweah was bored out of her gourd.


le sigh



We have had a few spates of fall-like bordering on wintry weather around here. New snowfall in the high country has painted the high peaks with a light coat of white. Per Colorado’s typical cycle, the next day was sunshine and blue skies – you know, to make the snowy peaks even prettier. Fall around here is less of fall and more of a tug-of-war between the last vestiges of summer and the raucous arrival of winter with some beautiful golden aspen littered throughout the mountains. Fall is also when I can tolerate chocolate again. I can’t deal with chocolate in summer. Don’t want to work with it, don’t want to eat it. But as soon as the weather cools down, my thoughts around chocolate become less hostile… more friendly like.

chocolate, milk, eggs, vanilla bean, sugar, cocoa powder

split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds out

pouring milk into a saucepan with the vanilla bean and seeds



When I was making these chocolate pots de crème, Jeremy asked what it was. I replied they are chocolate custards.

jeremy: Like crème brûlée?
me: No, there is no burnt sugar on top.
jeremy: Like flan?
me: There is no burnt sugar on the bottom.
jeremy: So it’s like crème brûlée without the burnt sugar?
me: Uh, sure.


two eggs, one yolk

whisk sugar into the eggs and egg yolk

temper the hot, steeped milk into the eggs



To be honest, I didn’t know what chocolate pots de crème were. I had an idea, but had never had one before and had never made it before. With the scorching days of summer a mere faded memory, I thought it was time to try it out… see what the fuss was about. The recipe itself is quite simple. I think with most recipes, you’re halfway to success if you use good quality ingredients. All of my ingredients were organic except for the chocolate (Callebaut) and the cocoa powder (Droste). But what had me scouring the interwebs was the question of whether or not I could bake them in dainty porcelain rather than ovenproof ramekins. I found my answer from a trusted source.

mix in the melted chocolate

pour into vessels

add hot water to the baking pan



A kitchen towel at the bottom of the baking pan keeps your vessels from touching the hot pan. This prevents a large thermal gradient from building up in the vessel and possibly causing it to crack. Keeping the temperature low (300°F) will also help to prevent thermal stress on the vessel. Bear in mind if you use a hodgepodge of tea cups and ramekins and demitasses, that they will be done at different times. Physics dictates it thus. Also, pour the hot water into the pan near the tallest vessel so you don’t have water billowing up and over the sides of the smaller ones. Ask me how I know this.

The centers should still jiggle just a touch when they are done, but don’t worry – they will firm up. Remove them from the oven and let them cool, then refrigerate them for a couple of hours. A smooth and creamy chocolate custard is hard to beat. I’m quite partial to the itty bitty ones.


just the right size for a treat

chocolate velvet



Chocolate Pots de Crème
[print recipe]
slightly modified from La Tartine Gourmande

2 eggs
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
100 g dark chocolate
2 tsps unsweetened cocoa powder

Place the milk, vanilla bean pod, and vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan over high heat. Let the milk come to a boil, then turn off the heat and cover the pan with a lid. Let steep for 30 minutes. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and set aside until ready to use. Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, egg yolk and sugar together. Reheat the vanilla and milk until just boiling and remove from heat. Slowly add a little of the hot milk to the eggs while whisking to temper the mixture and to avoid cooking the eggs. Keep adding the hot milk until it is fully incorporated into the eggs. Add the melted chocolate and cocoa powder to the milk. Pour the custard into individual ramekins or tea cups. Skim the foam off the tops of any of the custards. Place the custards vessels in a baking dish or roasting pan and fill the pan with hot water until the vessels are half immersed, taking care not to let water spill up and into the custards. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes, depending on how large your custards are. When they are done, the middles should jiggle slightly, but the edges should be firm. Remove the custards from the oven and let them cool in the water bath. Cover with plastic and refrigerate before serving. (They’ll firm up more in the refrigerator).

23 nibbles at “change of plans”

  1. Dana says:

    Tell Jeremy they are like a super awesome grown up chocolate pudding. Now, can I have one please? I love the different sized and colored vessels. Ramekins are overrated. I hope you are feeling better!

  2. Magda says:

    I love that tip for placing a kitchen towel at the bottom of the pan. Thanks!

    Even though I’m craaazy about chocolate, I have never made choco pots de creme.
    Feel better soon!

  3. Margie says:

    These babies look luscious! The recipe is waiting in my favs.

    Hope you are on the road to recovery. Sorry to hear that a bug-a-boo hit you. Slap it down and get out in the white stuff soon!

  4. Bev Weidner says:

    My eyeballs are so happy just looking at those little cups.

  5. TheKitchenWitch says:

    I love Kaweah’s “le sigh.”

    I am also in full agreement that summer is decidedly un-chocolate. Summer is everything lemon. But I do admire these little yummies…pots de creme are one of the few chocolate things I make (because they’re dead easy…no whipping things, a’la mousse).

    Hope those meds kick in, sweetie. And you be a birthday girl this week…when can I buy you lunch? xoxo

  6. jessica says:

    your puppy is so adorabe!

  7. Bridget says:

    That’s actually exactly how I think of pots de creme – creme brulee with no topping. Creme brulee is my husband’s favorite dessert, so I almost always end up adding sugar to his serving and torching it. I probably wouldn’t do it with chocolate, but it was perfect with the pumpkin pots de creme I made last fall.

  8. Valérie says:

    Mmmm, these are classic, but always a pleasure! I hope you feel better soon…

  9. la domestique says:

    Just this weekend I started craving chocolate again. I went to my favorite “Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake” from Nigella’s How to Be a Domestic Goddess. However, I freaking love chocolate pot de creme and must make this at home soon.

  10. myFudo says:

    Love the presentation, looks really good. got a craving for some chocolate after reading your post :) thanks for sharing.

  11. Natalie says:

    these looks great, i love pots de creme.

  12. Rose says:

    OK, Jen. In the narrative you said to ask how you knew that you needed to “pour the hot water into the pan near the tallest vessel so you don’t have water billowing up and over the sides of the smaller ones.” So, how did you know this?

  13. Samantha says:

    Oh my gosh, yum! Definitely going on the rotation and it looks like it will be crappy weather in Boston this weekend, so maybe I’ll try it then…

  14. Nancy says:

    Yum, nothing bac be all bad as long as there is chocolate around!

  15. Nancy says:

    Ooops, nothing CAN be all bad…

  16. Kalyn says:

    Bummer. I hope you are starting to feel better.

  17. Lyn @LovelyPantry says:

    Great recipe & photographys. Feel better soon…

  18. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    I am so ready for some of these little chocolate cuties in my kitchen! Making them this weekend and I’m not even sick!

  19. Joy says:

    Those look so good.

  20. Rachel says:

    Like chocolate for my eyes. Looks way easier than the Barefoot Contessa version, on which I slaved for hours and ended up with crap. Meh. Can’t wait to try your version!

  21. hungryandfrozen says:

    Sorry to hear you were sick. I know what you mean about chocolate in summer – too rich, too much. That said, I’m very partial to chocolate ice cream and cocoa sorbet…

    Great tip about putting a kitchen towel at the bottom of the oven dish.

  22. jenyu says:

    Indeed, I am certainly feeling better and recovered. Thank you for the well wishes!!

    Dana – you’re right, that’s a good way to put it :)

    Magda – I like that tip too, otherwise I don’t think I would have tried using the delicate porcelain cups.

    TKW – ah babe, fall shoot and so much going on – my schedule won’t free up until mid November by which time it may be my turn to take you to lunch ;)

    Rose – one of my pots de crème bonked because water poured into it :(

  23. Brittany says:

    Thanks for the recipe! These came out really well for me and tasted delicious, although I did struggle with incorporating that darn cocoa powder! LOL!

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