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
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
- Place all ingredients, except the milk and cream, into a blender.
- 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.
- Just before serving, whip the cream to soft peaks.
- Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream.
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.