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)

French Toast Cupcakes w/ Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Frosting


This recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs, The Cupcakery.  I have been making a lot of chocolate desserts lately (I’m huge on chocolate, the thicker, richer, and darker, the better) and I decided to try something new that contained absolutely no chocolate.  So, I found this cupcake recipe and it sounded absolutely divine. Plus, as I adore anything cream cheese, this frosting had me sold.

I followed the original recipe pretty closely, but I did make a couple tweaks, so I’ve listed the modified recipe below.

Ingredients:

(cupcakes)

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tsp. maple extract
  • 1/2 tsp. praline extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

(frosting)

  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp maple syrup (make sure it’s also at room temperature)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 dash of cinnamon (for dusting/decorating)

Directions:

(cupcakes)

  1. žPreheat your oven to 350° F. Line your muffin tin(s) with baking liners (recipe yields 12 smaller cupcakes, or I suppose 6 large ones)
  2. Whisk together your flour, baking powder, cinnamon, clove, and salt in a cooking bowl
  3. žBeat butter, sugar, and eggs until creamy in a medium/large mixing bowl. Add in maple and praline extract
  4. žWhisk flour mixture and milk into this, in roughly three additions of flour and two of milk. Then beat until smooth
  5. žUse an ice-cream scoop to divide the batter into the cupcake tins and bake 20-25 minutes (mine took about 23 minutes).  They’re done when they’re  a golden brown, tops are springy when lightly touched, and a toothpick comes out clean
  6. Let the cupcakes cool for a bit until they separate away from the tin, then take them out (I used a fork and my fingers to gently nudge them out, but you could also just carefully invert the pan)
  7. Let them cool completely on a rack before frosting

(frosting)

  1. žCream together your butter, cream cheese, and salt (keep in mind cream cheese is already a little salty).  Add in your maple syrup
  2. Reduce speed and carefully pour in sugar 1/2 cup at a time until the frosting has the sweetness and the consistency you want (I prefer my cream cheese frosting more tart and thicker, so I used much less sugar than the original recipe).  Beat on medium-high until smooth
  3. Refrigerate the frosting for 5 minutes or so to reduce melting while you pipe it onto your cupcakes
  4. After frosting your cupcakes, decorate with some dusted cinnamon on top
Review:
This is a wonderfully crafted recipe (no surprise coming from The Cupcakery).  It yielded a perfect 12 cupcakes with just enough leftover batter for a delicious fingerful.  The cupcakes rose without any fuss and did not overflow their cups at all. They smelled absolutely heavenly (think a spiced combination of Christmas and chai tea) and they tasted exactly the same.  The frosting called for much more sugar than I used, and I don’t feel it needed anywhere near four cups of confectioner’s sugar; it was sweet enough with less than half of that.  Just by itself, it had a mild maple syrup flavor, which, while pleasant, wasn’t as powerful as I was expecting.  On the cupcakes, however, the flavor was drawn out as it played off the delicious spice of the base.