Translates to: Little pots of chocolaty custardy cold creamy deliciousness. It’s an old Brasserie standard, which some chefs seem to think license to muck it up. I’m happy to see creativity, but when my favourite lunch place in Paris serves me pot au chocolat with goat’s milk, I draw the line, pull the plug and head over to Pierre Hermé.
I am trying to recreate that very dark, almost black colour and the slightly bitter flavour of the brasserie pot au chocolat I remember from my misspent youth and I have a pretty good idea how to. Brasseries of the simple kind that my mother liked (and I dare say still likes) to frequent were cost conscious, so they lengthened their pots with cocoa, rather than using a large quantity of comparatively expensive chocolate. I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Use a really good quality cocoa, not the pre-mixed stuff they sell as drinking chocolate.
The recipe below will give you 4 little pots if you use 150ml ramekins. Use absolutely anything you have to hand to fill the custard into. As long as it can withstand the oven at 175ºC, the shape doesn’t really matter. Unless you can’t get a spoon into it to eat your pot au chocolat.
- 100ml liquid cream (whipping cream)
- 400ml milk
- 100g dark chocolate
- 10g cocoa powder
- 70g caster sugar (20g for the cocoa mix and 50g for the custard base)
- 1 whole egg (except for the shell)
- 2 egg yolk
Some recipes may call for a higher percentage of cream, but I find the end result too rich. You will get a nice creamy texture from the chocolate alone, so if you want to forego the cream, it’s perfectly fine. Just use 500ml milk.
Break the chocolate into pieces. the size doesn’t really matter, larger pieces just take longer to melt. I’m a very tidy cook, but chocolate defeats me, I just get it everywhere! I don’t know how it happens, but by the time I finish, there is chocolate on my work surface, chocolate on the back of my hands, chocolate on my clothes, you get the picture. One more piece of advice; If you need 100g chocolate, please don’t buy the exact quantity, because you will definitely eat some, so get extra.
Heat your over to 160ºC to 175ºC and no higher than that!
Mix the cocoa powder with 20g of the sugar. Heat the milk and cream and when it’s just starting to bubble up, take 1-2 Tbsp and pour them into the cocoa sugar mix. Stir to make a thick paste. With the milk cream mix still bubbling, pour the cocoa paste into it and dissolve. Turn off the heat (don’t turn it on again!). Now add the chocolate pieces and stir until dissolved. You should be getting a nice, dark mixture. Don’t worry if the chocolate has left some small flecks in the milk, some chocolates just do that. It will sort itself out.
Put the egg and egg yolks into a bowl, have the whisk ready, pour in the sugar and whisk it up until it’s nice and creamy white. I like to do this by hand, because it’s kinda fun, but feel free to use the mixer. Now pour the hot (but not boiling) cocoa milk into the whisked eggs and stir to dissolve. You’ve got your custard! I usually strain it before filling it into ramekins, but you don’t absolutely have to. If you’re sure there’s no egg shell in there.
Pour the custard into whatever vessels you have set aside for this, place them into a reasonably deep baking tray, boil some water in your kettle, pour enough water into the tray to come up to about ¾ of your chocolate pots and put it into the oven. These will set in about 20-30 minutes, so check them regularly. How do you do that? Just wriggle the tray a bit and see if the mix is still liquid. Once it’s jiggly like jelly, you’re done.
Cool the custards at room temperature, or if you’re in a hurry, pour off the water and fill the tray with ice. Once cooled down, cover each pot with cling film and put it into the chiller. They will be ready to eat in about 3 hours and they will keep for at least 4 days.
If, like me, you’re not very coordinated, it’s best to place the tray with the custards on the oven shelf first and THEN pour the hot water in. Then you can gently slide the shelf back into the oven rather than having to balance the water filled tray into a hot oven.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again; Sugar will “burn” egg yolk, if it is left to stand together, so you need to whisk it as soon as you have added the sugar. Don’t believe me? Try it out and you will be left with little dark orange flecks that Will Not dissolve.
If you didn’t already know it, your cocoa sugar paste will give you an extremely good hot chocolate! Just pour hot milk over the paste, stir and sip. Adjust the sugar to your liking.