Not all of our heirloom desserts have origins as far back as our youth. Some we picked up when we started our life together. We both had our first taste of pots de crème in a restaurant on the very tip of St. Tropez. With the sea surrounding our candlelit table, two small apothecary jars were delivered. To our young and inexperienced selves, they looked like two jewels sent to cap a romantic meal. More often than not, this is the dessert we make for each other when having a Valentine’s meal at home.
- 1 1/3 cups half-and-half
- Grated zest of 1 orange
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- 3 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon orange liqueur
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 325ºF.
In a small saucepan, combine the half-and-half, orange zest, and salt and bring to a simmer over low heat. Remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 15 minutes.
Strain the orange zest out of the mixture, return the half-and-half to the pan, and add the sugar. Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, and add the chocolate. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes, or until the chocolate has melted.
In a large glass measuring cup with a spout (this makes for easier pouring), stir together the egg yolks, cocoa powder, orange liqueur, and vanilla until smooth. Stir in the chocolate mixture. (Don’t beat vigorously as you don’t want to create bubbles.)
Pour the custard into six 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups. Place a folded kitchen towel in the bottom of a baking pan large enough to hold the ramekins snugly. Place the ramekins in the pan and fill the pan with hot water, to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with foil.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the custards are just set but slightly wobbly in the center. Uncover and carefully remove the cups from the water bath. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled.
If you’ve got espresso cups or even a beautiful set of small jars, use them– it’s a fun way of serving pots de crème. If you like, top each with a spoonful of whipped cream.