Chocolate Pots de Crème (Cayenne-Chocolate)

I have found my new obsession.  Perfect, creamy, fun, little pots de crème.  They’re adorable, sophisticated, and utterly divine.  I eat them tiny spoon-scrape by tiny spoon-scrape because I absolutely don’t want the taste to end.  These chocolate delights are unbelievably decadent and rich.  The texture is the perfect blend of smooth yet solid, something dense but something that will melt like satin on your tongue.  This is the kind of dessert that turns heads, the kind that will leave your friends dumbfounded and wanting more.  The best part is that it’s so versatile.  This recipe can be added onto, tweaked, and modified almost endlessly.  That’s why it never gets old and always stays fun.

I’ve included the recipe for my absolute favorite version: cayenne-chocolate pots de crème.  It’s got a sweet spice that pricks the tongue gently before rolling into a slow, sensuous warmth.  The combination of cayenne and cinnamon is classic, but combined with the silky richness of the chocolate, it creates a unique and irresistible taste.  Eating these little pots de crème is truly an experience.

CAYENNE-CHOCOLATE POTS DE CRÈME:

Ingredients:

  • 1.3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 2 oz. sweetened chocolate
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 sprinkles cinnamon
  • 1-2 dashes of cayenne
  • 1 pinches of salt
  • 2/3 c heavy cream
  • 1/6 c half n half
  • 2 tsp bourbon

Directions:

  1. Finely chop (or grate) your chocolate into a medium-sized, heatproof bowl.  Set a sieve or a strainer over the top (make sure it’s not too fine, otherwise your creme anglaise may not pass through easily)
  2. Whisk your egg yolks and powdered sugar together in a small saucepan. Then, whisk in your heavy cream, half ‘n half, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt (it’s a good idea to taste the mix now, to see if it has enough cinnamon/cayenne.  Remember that the point of this is the spicy kick of cayenne; the cinnamon is only there for additional warmth and a subtle touch of aromatic spice).
  3. Heat  this mix (your crème anglaise) over medium-low flame until thickened (8-12 minutes), stirring constantly (really, constantly.  Get lazy and you end up with lumpy bits of cooked egg not a smooth crème anglaise).
  4. Pour immediately through strainer onto your chocolate and let stand for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Whisk together mixture, adding in your bourbon as you go.  You should also taste your mixture again and add more cayenne, if needed; the rich chocolate taste may cut out some of the cayenne’s punch.
  6. Pour into ramekins and let stand to cool.  Then cover and store in refrigerator for at least 2-4 hours.

Tips:

Stir, stir, stir, stir, stir your crème anglais.  Heat it slowly, building up the consistancy, and keep it lively (treat it like a good romance).  You want every part of your crème anglaise in equal movement at all times (just don’t get splashy and rambunctious).

Add in a splash of alcohol (rum is always a good, complimentary option) to help keep your chocolate pots de crème nice and smooth.  Just don’t add too much or you’ll cut out the chocolate flavor.

If you’re one of those rare people who don’t taste cayenne as spicy (like me), it’s best to have a guinea pig standing by to taste your creation as you go and make sure it’s edible for everyone (unlike my first batch).

*Other variations I like are espresso+vanilla (mix up about 1 tsp strong espresso and 2 tsp vanilla, add in after the chocolate has melted), ginger+anise (mince some fresh ginger and toss it in your crème anglaise with 3/4 tsp anise seeds; you can add in some powdered ginger, too, once your chocolate has melted), and orange liqueur (grate some orange zest and add into your crème anglaise; stir in some vermouth or orange liqueur once your chocolate has melted)

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Oreo Cheesecake Cookies

There were more, but they were devoured by the time I got my camera out

You really don’t have to read further than the name to be hooked.  I found these cookies on one of my new favorite blogs, BrownEyedBaker, and they were fantastic. I did make some alterations;  I chose to go for crushed chocolate graham crackers instead of crushed Oreos and I’m happy I did because these had a creamy and milky enough taste without the added Oreo filling.  Plus, it’s healthier and, while I’m not a health-nut when it comes to dessert, if the healthier option tastes just as good (if not better), then why not go for it?

These cookies are incredibly easy and simple, but they have that little extra something that makes them interesting and special.  They taste exactly like an Oreo cookie, chocolatey but also milky.  In fact, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies a few days later and discovered the Oreo cheesecake cookies taste exactly like a fresh chocolate chip cookie dipped in milk.

These cookies are crispy on the outside and chewy-soft on the inside.  The cream cheese really does a fantastic job of keeping these babies moist and soft even after spending a couple days out and uncovered.  Plus it gives the cookies their unique and intriguing creaminess.  This is one of my new favorite recipes and perfect for summer gatherings.  It’s certain to impress and leave nothing but cookie crumbs on the plate.

OREO CHEESECAKE COOKIES:

Yields 1 dozen cookies (you’ll want the whole batch!)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped to chocolate-chip sized pieces)
  • 1/2 cup (aprox.) crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat liner.
  2. Cream together your butter and your cream cheese in a medium until smooth and well-combined.
  3. Add in your sugar and vanilla, mixing until they’re well-combined.
  4. Add in your flour and mix on low until it’s just incorporated.
  5. Use a plastic or wooden spoon to stir in your chopped chocolate.
  6. Pour your chocolate graham cracker crumbs onto a plate and, using an ice-cream scoop to scoop up your cookie dough, roll your cookie dough banks in the crushed graham crackers until thoroughly coated.  Place on the baking sheet 1-2 inches apart (they spread out a bit, but not too much).
  7. Bake for 10 – 13 minutes, until the edges are golden (it is a little hard to tell when these are done, but you want them still a little soft when you take them out so that they’re not too crunchy when they cool).
  8. Let them cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Tips:
Because the cookies get rolled in crushed chocolate graham cracker crumbs, it can be a little challenging to see when they’re done.  It took me a couple batches to figure out how long to bake them since it’s tough to see the edges turn golden.  I’ve decided that at 10 minutes, they’re coming out, even if they look a little soft (they’ll firm up and bake a little more on the sheet).

Chinese Scallion Pancakes

I first clicked on a recipe for Chinese scallion pancakes because the name sounded so intriguing.  I had never had scallion pancakes before, and I thought a pancake with scallions in it would be quite bizarre.  As I found out, they’re a typical Chinese dim-sum and not actually a breakfast food.  They’re also really tasty, easy, fast, and make a great lunch topped with some sautéed mushrooms, onions, and spinach.  I’ve changed the original recipe a little, and I don’t know enough about traditional Chinese dishes, but I’m betting they’re no longer true, classic “scallion pancakes”.  Especially since I’ve opted out of using scallions.

NON-TRADITIONAL CHINESE SCALLION PANCAKES

Yields about 3 pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp butter (melted)
  • 1/3 (approximately) finely chopped onion
  • 1 dash of vegetable oil
  • 1 pinch of salt

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl mix your flour with half (1/8 cup) of your water and the melted butter.  If you wish to use a stand-mixer, then use the hook attachment and mix on low. Stir until the water and butter are absorbed.  Keep adding water a little at a time and mixing thoroughly until your dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  Your dough should be firm and barely sticky.  Remember that any additions of flour or liquid take time to work into your dough, so make sure you mix it well before adding more.
  2. Keep kneading the dough, either by hand or in the mixer until smooth and elastic. Roll your dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel (or plastic-wrap) for 15 minutes.
  3. After it’s done resting, cut your dough into 3 even pieces (or more if you want smaller pancakes) and roll the pieces into balls.
  4. Take a ball of dough and roll it out into a thin circle (maybe a few millimeters thick) on a well floured surface (though, I’ve found that mine don’t stick too badly, so I don’t bother flouring).
  5. Spread a bit of olive oil over the surface of the pancake, just enough to coat it, and sprinkle salt liberally.
  6. Place 1/3 of your finely chopped onions (the finer, the better) in a line about half an inch from one side of the pancake.  Then, like a burrito, roll the pancake up from the onion end to form a tight tube.  You may wish to pinch the ends closed so that your onions don’t squeeze out.  Then, curl the roll around in a spiral, like a cinnamon bun, and pinch the end to keep it wrapped.
  7. Roll out the curled pancake to about 1/8 inch thickness.  Oil and onions will come out as you roll, but don’t worry, just press the onions back on, or toss them in the pan later.
  8. Put a bit of oil in your favorite skillet and heat it over a medium flame till hot.  Fry the pancake until the bottom is crispy and golden-brown, then flip and repeat.  Don’t be afraid to add more oil as needed. While your pancake is frying, roll out and curl up your remaining dough balls (the timing usually works out pretty well for me)
  9. I like to top my pancakes with leftover onion bits, mushrooms, and spinach lightly sautéed in a vodka-cream sauce.  They are absolutely delicious plain, as well.
Review:
The first time I made scallion pancakes, I followed a traditional recipe and actually made it with scallions.  I did forget to salt it, however, and since I was absolutely famished, I undercooked them, as well.  Perhaps it was some combination of those two mistakes that led me to alter the recipe, but I also found that the scallions were just too thin and insubstantial; I wanted something a little more, well, more.  So I opted for onion and I threw in some butter because, really, you can’t go wrong with the stuff.  This is now one of my favorite recipes to make (and eat).  It’s fun, easy, and quick.  The dough is incredibly non-fussy and forgiving; it’s definitely an eye-ball kind of recipe.  These pancakes are one of those things that you make once and immediately remember how to make the second and third time.  Plus they’re gorgeous and incredibly tasty!
*I’m including the original recipe because it’s worth trying out and also has wonderful photos showing how to make these step-by-step. The photos on this post are from the first time I made them, following the traditional recipe.