Chocolate Espresso Pots De Creme For Your Valentine

Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine! ~Thomas HoodThis rich little pots de creme dessert is one recipe that I will make again and again. The chocolate espresso pots de creme present well and can be made ahead of time to lighten the load of the Valentines Day meal preparation. And for you coffee lovers, espresso powder adds a wonderful zing to the pots de creme. You can decrease it to your liking, omit it or use the full amount of espresso powder. The chocolate curls give this dark chocolate dessert a classic look. Try topping the pots de creme with whipped cream or fresh raspberries for a completely different presentation.Suggested wine: Cockburn’s (Tawny, Vintage, Colheita)Ingredients6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped1 1/3 cups heavy cream2/3 cup whole milk1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons instant-espresso powder*6 large egg yolks2 tablespoons sugarSpecial equipment: 8 (4- to 5-oz) ramekins or pot de crème cupsGarnish: bittersweet chocolate curls (see cooks’ note, below)Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300°F.Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream, milk, espresso powder (to taste), and a pinch of salt just to a boil in a small heavy saucepan, stirring until espresso powder is dissolved, then pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.Whisk together yolks, sugar, and a pinch of salt in another bowl, then add warm chocolate mixture in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart glass measure and cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.Line bottom of a baking pan (large enough to hold ramekins) with a folded kitchen towel and arrange ramekins on towel. Poke several holes in a large sheet of foil with a skewer. Divide custard among ramekins, then bake custards in a hot water bath, pan covered tightly with foil, until custards are set around edges but still slightly wobbly in centers, 30 to 35 minutes.Transfer ramekins to a rack to cool completely, uncovered, about 1 hour. (Custards will set as they cool.) Chill, covered, until cold, at least 3 hours.Cooks’ notes:• Pots de crème can chill up to 2 days.• To make chocolate curls, shave off curls from a piece of chocolate at room temperature using a vegetable peeler.*Available at some supermarkets, specialty foods shops, and The Baker’s Catalogue (800-827-6836).Makes 8 servings.Gourmet recipe here

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