Sunday, July 5, 2009

Chocolate Pots de Crème with Langues du Chat

Eight dollars might seem like a lot to spend on two and a half ounces of chocolate one is only going to cook with. I probably should have savored each square over the course of a month with an after dinner liqueur or espresso. They do say, however, that one should never cook with wine one wouldn't drink and I don't see why the same shouldn't hold true with chocolate. And besides, I had raw Jersey cream in the fridge, 'cause I always do, and last week's eggs that needed using, and one can always find 1/4 cup of sugar in the pantry--so pots de crème it had to be.

Chocolate Pots de Crème

serves 6

  • 5 oz. good dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2 cups heavy cream, please not ultrapasteurized
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch salt, cause it always helps
  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Bring a quart or so of water to a simmer over medium heat. Arrange 6 ramekins (or tea cups, or small bowls) so they are not touching in a large baking dish and set aside.
  • Have the chopped up chocolate ready in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan bring the cream just to a simmer over medium heat. Pour cream into chocolate and stir until completely melted. This might take a few minutes. If necessary, hold the bowl over the water you're bringing to a simmer for a few seconds to melt the last few stubborn bits. Be sure to stir constantly. Set aside.
  • Whisk the yolks, sugar, and pinch salt together in a large bowl until they have thickened and become pale, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in about 1/3 of the chocolate mixture. Once combined add the rest while stirring constantly and trying not to incorporate any air.
  • Strain the custard mixture into a large measuring cup or that perfect bowl which pours well. Once strained, divide the mixture among the ramekins. Rap each dish sharply on the counter a few times to eliminate any air bubbles.
  • Carefully pour the water you have heated into the baking dish so it comes about half way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover baking dish with foil and poke several holes in it to allow steam to escape. Bake about 25 minutes or until the outer edge of the custard is set but it is still jiggly in the center. (In my opinion, it is better to take them out too early than too late. Nothing is more disappointing than rubbery, overcooked custard.)
  • Remove ramekins to a rack and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve straight away or cover with plastic and refrigerate up to 4 days. Allow pots de crème to come back up to room temperature before serving.
As for the langues du chat. The pots took 2 egg yolks and, as you might have noticed, I am not one to throw out left over whites. One instantly thinks of meringue when there are whites sitting on the counter, but I didn't want to make meringues. I had been wanting to try langues du chat for some time and thought a crisp, plain cookie would go well with my pots de crème. I found a recipe in Paula Peck's The Art of Fine Baking and was delighted to see that it called for egg whites. I do love it when a plan comes together.

Langues du Chat

Paula Peck

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 cup flour, sifted
  • pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
  • Cream butter and sugar together. Beat in unbeaten egg whites a little at a time, beating very well after each addition. Fold in flour, salt, and vanilla.
  • Fit a pastry bag with a round 1cm tip and fill with batter. On prepared baking sheets, press out pencils of batter about 2 inches long. Leave 1 inch between cookies for spreading.
  • Bake about 7 minutes, or until edges of cookies are golden brown. Centers should remain light. Remove cookies from baking sheet at once.
  • Yield: approximately 50.
The chocolate I used from the Mast Brothers of Brooklyn--72% cacao with sea salt--gave my pots de crème a very particular, even peculiar, yet not at all unpleasant flavor. Very chocolaty, but with something else besides. Not salty, really, but something...something obviously difficult to describe. The texture was heavenly, though. What else could one expect when using the best cream in the world and eggs from chickens I've met.
This was my first attempt at langues du chat and there are several things I wish I'd known before I started. When eaten soon after coming out of the oven they are perfect--crispy and buttery and melt on your tongue. If humidity is an issue where you live, as it is here, your cookies will soon become soft even if stored in an air tight container. Also, and next time I'll try this, many recipes call for powdered sugar instead of granulated. Apparently it maximizes cookie spread, minimizes aeration during mixing, and lends a finer texture to the finished cookie. One other tip: have a steady hand while piping out the cookies and try not to spread the dough with the tip as you pipe. Any irregularities will be magnified as the cookies spread. An entire sheet of mine came out wiggly due to uneven piping.
All the same, they were delicious and a lovely accompaniment to a rich chocolate pudding.

1 comment:

madelino said...

ok, this is wierd. I have been wanting chocolate pudding since sunday. I don't understand!!! Not that there isn't a good reason to want chocolate pudding always...but....
I have found a couple of good mulberry trees too, if you want to go gorge with's not a pretty sight, but sometimes a forager has to be a glutton too.