Po’s Easy Pots de Crème

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For your consideration: Po’s Easy Pots de Crème.  Po is my mother-in-law and she is a master of complicated dinner party timing.  None of the slatternly boozing it up with the help in the kitchen that characterizes entertaining chez nous.  She’s all guests-in-one-place, cooks-in-another, and the brevity of a host’s absence from her guests only redounds to her reputation for efficient culinary management.  Ninety-percent of this recipe is “Place all of the ingredients… in a blender.”  Not that you’d know it from the taste and texture.  Remember how the genie in Disney’s ALADDIN describes his life?  “ALL THE POWER OF THE UNIVERSE… in a teeny little space.”  That’s this dessert.   An espresso cup of intense chocolate, accented with cream.  Or gussied up with gussies of your own choice.  As it happened, our daughter Roxanne wanted hers with a dollop of the lemon curd she’d just made.  Jody countered by suggesting some fresh raspberries.  Not wanting to be left behind, I proposed toasted coconut shavings, which my wife and daughter greeted with the expression of parents drawing on long-exhausted reserves of enthusiasm for a child’s one-thousandth bad drawing of a horsie.  Jody put an end to the contest by leaking a bit of her chef super powers: a surprise sprinkling of Taza roasted coffee nibs. Did I say contest?  We weren’t competing.  We were sharing.  No one competes in our family.  Ever.  Not in our kitchen.  Ever.  Enjoy.  Ken 

 

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Po’s Easy Pots de Crème

 

Ingredients: Be sure everything, except the cream, is at room temperature.

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate squares, or semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup heavy cream

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients, except the milk and cream, into a blender.
  2. Heat the milk until it’s just about to boil and pour into blender.  Buzz until the chocolate is completely melted, about a minute.  Pour the chocolate into six espresso cups or very small serving dishes.  My mother always used delicate gold-patterned demitasse cups.  Chill for at least 2 hours.
  3. Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks.
  4. Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.

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Jody Notes:

My sisters and I always knew a special occasion dinner was in store when we saw the blender was filled with Nestlé chocolate chips.  Our mother was making pots de crème.  Dinners for 8 were the best, when she had to double the recipe–it meant there were leftovers for us.

This is the easiest recipe in the world.  Simply dump everything into the blender and let it rip.  It’s very dense and rich, which is why it’s made in such tiny servings. It could be lightened by adding more milk to the custard, but I prefer the contrast of the chocolate custard with the airy unsweetened whipped cream.   

The only change I’ve made to my mother’s recipe is in the chocolate.  Feel free to use Nestlé chocolate chips, but I like experimenting with fancy chocolate. 

Pot de crème means “pot of cream “in French.  I can’t tell you how disappointing it was to discover that my mother, who goes by the nickname “Po,” was not, as I believed all through my girlhood, being honored in the name of this dessert.  

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57 thoughts

    • Thank you! You get a bit of a boost when you photograph something so colorful. The cups are from South Africa and I wish we could easily get more. But try the pots de crème – once you taste it, the cups stop mattering. Ken

  1. I discovered the existence of the expression “pot de crème” when I started reading English-speaking food blogs. Until now, I (and many others, I’ve asked around!) always just said “crème (au chocolat, à la vanille, au café…) or eventually “crème dessert”, but “pot de crème” sounds very strange, I would expect it to mean a jug of crème fraîche. I love that the English use this expression! Anyway, these look delicious and so very “chocolatey”; I would have a hard time choosing between the different toppings, I like the sound of them all!

    • Hi, Darya–In my childhood home the closest we came to “pots de crème” was chocolate pudding. Growing up I never heard the term. So when I went to school in Europe and learned to speak French I had no previous name to supplant. However, when I returned to the US and began working in fancy restaurants, I heard pots de crème and had the same reaction as you. “Pot of cream–what’s that?” Ha! Ken (P.S. I really really liked the lemon curd – it’s not a combination you see that often.)

  2. Mmmmm. Memories of taking the tiniest spoons in our house in Providence to savor the pots de creme in custard cups and compete with Jody for who could eat their cup of dreaminess the most slowly….Yes competition. Thanks for memorializing this madeleine of my childhood. xox

  3. Ohh I will definitely be trying this! Maybe accented with some salted caramel? Regardless, I’m sure it will be delicious. Beautiful pictures, as always.

  4. A great post! Po sounds like my mother, except mine would get mad that we were enjoying ourselves while she was slaving away. A great example of what not to do when I started having my own company over. A beautiful and simple dessert. Did she know that this is really not how pots de creme is made? Maybe she didn’t care – she just wanted to use the blender!!!

    • Actually, Po was a big fan of making her kids slave away (at least that’s the way my wife tells it). I don’t know if she knew about the original method, but I wouldn’t doubt it. While my mother was reading Betty Crocker, Po was reading M.F.K. Fisher. Lucky girls, Jody and her sisters. Ken

  5. When I took a look at your first photograph I thought…oh no, this is going to be very complicated. Not at all! This is such a lovely post. I especially like how the three of you added your ideas of “gussies”. Sounds like a wonderful time spent together in the kitchen with your daughter. And I love this pots de creme method!

    • All in the service of visual interest, my dear, all in the service. I just like making photos that keep people’s attention. But of course, there’s always the danger that there’s-way-too-much-stuff-to-do perception will take over. Thanks for persisting. Ken

    • Velma is an experienced kitchen pug. Ever at the ready to help keep things clean behind whomever’s cooking. It’s a little staggering to think about the things she’s tasted. Ken P.S. Gojijong (sp.?) is on the list for this afternoon.

      • Charlotte and Velma sound like they should start their own canine cooking/kitchen cleaning show. :) Hope you like the gochujang recipe.

  6. Love your writing, Ken (funny!) and your notes, Jody (lovely memories!). The fancy chocolate is given away by the company logo on one of the falling pieces. :-) I can’t wait to try this; it will surely become an all-time favorite dessert. Pots de crrème is definitely ideal for a dinner party… it’s all about delicious delights that you can prep or prepare in advance. Of course, a straightforward “blender recipe” doesn’t hurt its cause, either! Cocoa nibs, raspberries and coconut would all be amazing and receive my (equal) votes.

  7. “‘ALL THE POWER OF THE UNIVERSE… in a teeny little space.’ That’s this dessert.” Hi praise indeed. These look so delicious and chocolatey. That first photo is stunning. The texture of the chocolate and whipped cream and curd is so pronounced. This is some fine work here both in the recipe and the photos. So cute how Jody thought her mom’s name was after the dessert :) Interesting comments too. I’m now reading MFK Fisher. I started with Child’s “My Life in France” which led me to “Provence 1970″ by MFK Fisher’s grand nephew, which led me to her collected works and a history on James Beard and a few other random books. I seem to have lost control and fallen in love with French cooking and writing.

    • Thanks for photo love. Regarding French cooking and writing–why would you not? I have to tell you, if somebody dropped me into southern France, I’m pretty confident I could pass; not as southern French, but as French from somewhere else–and I’d be happy to live out my days. I feel at home there. I also love southern Italy–Puglia, Basilicata, but I’d never pass for anything but an outsider, which might be okay too. The point is, there’s something about the climate, culture and food in both places that puts me at ease.
      Ken

  8. Thanks for this recipe! And Taza coffee nibs, I didn’t even know it is an ingredient for gussying (sp?) things up. No way I’d survive the, um, sharing, around your dinner table.

    • Do you have Taza chocolate down under? They’re only a hop-skip-and-a-jump from us, and while I knew they marketed in New England, I didn’t know that they did anything abroad. Anyway, roasted cocoa nibs are a bitter treat when contrasted with sweet chocolate. Taza also makes a version of the nibs coated in dark chocolate. Yum! Ken

  9. This looks too good to pass up. Everything in a blender and then hear me roar. And I for one WILL be using the coconut shavings – chocolate and coconut: Duh! (meme). Sophie

  10. I spent many a meal at your parents table. It was always a gracious event. Please extend my thanks to her for true hospitality. Xo martha markham bilski

  11. I had never heard of pots de crème until college—from a friend I thought then to be the height of big city sophistication and intimidating fancy breeding. I remember being embarrassed I didn’t have the vaguest idea what she was talking about. But, then she made it and I realized it was just fancy chocolate pudding! What a wonderful, simple recipe.

    • Clearly, pots de crème had a culinary cultural moment of which I was unaware. I had dinner last night with a French woman who laughed when I told her about them (we were actually eating them for dessert at a dinner party where someone recreated them from our post) and she confirmed for me that in French they’d be called crèmes au chocolat, that p d c had no French meaning (except “container of cream” or maybe “container of crème fraîche”). So there was probably some sort of “sexing things up” for an American audience here, during a time all things French were considered the height of sophistication, even if they were, in the end, just pudding. Good pudding. But pudding nonetheless. Ken

  12. This is one of my mother’s go-to easy puddings too – really straightforward to prepare if you are feeding a large party. Personally I find them too rich so can only manage a teaspoonful or two. I tend to prefer milk choc, but I know I am in the minority. I like your variety of toppings though – makes them look really beautiful.

    • This is so funny–the number of people who remember their moms serving pots de crème. There must have been a moment when it was inescapable as a dessert. And then it disappeared… Thanks for commenting. Ken

  13. Actually, I happen to like the idea of your shaved coconut. But then, even though I’m not especially keen on chocolate, I used to love Bounty. Whew, that’s years ago! Anyway, it’s lots of coconut covered in chocolate. Good combination.

    • Thanks, Johnny. At first I wondered–What’s Bounty?–then figured it out. Bounty bars were never marketed in the US. But the Mars Candy Co. did market something similar, the Mounds bar, which I also loved. I wouldn’t dare try one now, for fear that I’d find it revoltingly oversweetened. I prefer to leave it where it remains, cherished in memory. Ken

  14. Another beautiful post indeed. I really have a lot of work to do on the photography. You captured those chocolate pieces perfectly. My last attempt at shooting some chili ended up in a strange red blur. I must remember to pay attention to the ISO!

    • Thanks, Conor. Practice + luck + off-camera flash + high shutter speed. If you get a blur it either means your shot wasn’t in focus or your shutter speed wasn’t high enough (mine’s usually at least 1/160th for pours). Getting your shutter speed high enough can be difficult without flash (at least in our often Stygian kitchen). But it is fun when you do finally capture a good one. Ken

  15. Hooray! A chocolate recipe to round out the repertoire and answer my cravings. And it’s touted as ridiculously simple too. I know chocolate is neither local nor seasonal, but it sure is tasty. Thanks Ken and Jodie.

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