My friend, also called Anita and I had been trying to get together for a while now to cook and photograph food.
Hosting a casual, laidback dinner for our dear friends who are moving away soon provided the perfect opportunity.
Anita came up with a French menu and Anita’s mother in law and I were great souf chefs (her words!).
I was ready with my camera to capture every step of the way to a great meal with friends, family and a lot of laughs.
We decided to make a simplified version of ‘Boeuf Bourguignon’ and a yummy ‘Chocolate Pots De Creme’ for dessert. The guests of honor were not without work for they supplied an excellent ‘Pepper Chicken’ for the non-beef eaters. Both stews were served with a hearty loaf of French bread with garlic (sourced from Whole Foods bakery). Below is Anita’s take on Chocolate Pots De Creme
Chocolate Pots De Creme (Source: David Leibovitz’s Ready for Dessert)
There is nothing quite like a smooth, dark chocolate dessert with just the right hint of coffee that just melts in your mouth.
This is adapted from the book of famous pastry chef from the Chez Panisse restaurant. This recipe uses very simple ingredients and makes for a no fuss, delicious dessert. If you’re making it for company, make sure you buy good quality chocolate. Valronha at Trader Joe’s or Scharffen Berger at Whole Foods will not disappoint.
7 oz. (200 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups (500 milliliters) half-and-half
3 Tbsp. (45 grams) sugar
1 tsp. instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 Celsius). Set six 4- to 6-ounce (125- to 180-milliliter) ramekins or custard cups in a roasting pan or deep baking dish.
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half, sugar, instant espresso or coffee powder, if using, and salt until quite hot, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Pour the hot half-and-half mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Let cool until tepid, then whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla. (If the mixture looks at all grainy, whisk well or purée in a blender until smooth.)
One technique to note here, not mentioned in the original recipe, is the tempering of the egg yolks. After mixing the yolk, we added part of the hot chocolate and half and half mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. This brought up the temperature of the egg yolks without scrambling them. Once mixed, the now hotter egg mixture could safely be added to the chocolate mixture.
Fill the roasting pan or baking dish with warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Transfer the pudding mixture to a large measuring cup or pitcher and divide evenly among the ramekins.
Fill the roasting pan or baking dish with warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the perimeters of the pudding are just set and the centers are still slightly jiggly, about 35 minutes.
Transfer the pudding from the water bath to a wire rack and let cool.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, garnished with small mounds of whipped cream and mint leaves.
Storage: The pudding can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking. Once baked, the pudding can be chilled for up to 2 days (although they’re much better when they haven’t been refrigerated). Bring them to room temperature before serving.