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I love love. It may be totally cliché, but every year when Valentine’s Day rolls up my cold heart warms and I melt into a big pool of romance. Maybe I’m not orchestrating rom-com-esque grand gestures with boomboxes or hundreds of white roses, but I’m definitely doing more than buying your average box of chocolates. (I save that for when they go on sale the week after V-Day, since nothing sets the mood like a good bargain, amirite?!) I’m talking about procuring caviar with all the accoutrements, the nicest steak from the butcher and even a little ol’ black truffle for shaving over a fresh pot of cacio e pepe (FYI, truffle in the air > love in the air). With the amount of effort I put into dinner, dessert has to be something that can be prepared the night before so it’s out of sight and mind. The sweet finale of this year’s feast is this recipe for chocolate-ginger pots de crème, here to help you shy away from that tired plate chocolate-covered strawberries.
For those of you who’ve never heard of this velvety cousin of chocolate mousse, I would liken it to a grown-up pudding cup. Quite simply it’s a ganache made with chocolate and custard for a dense and decadent sweet that will 100% result in you licking the glass clean. In this version, I add ginger to crank up the heat, pairing beautifully with rich dark chocolate. The best part? You can make them a day in advance so you just need to pull them from the fridge and garnish when it’s time to amp up the romance.
Now, let’s get technical. The only aspect that requires your undivided attention is the custard. The goal is the slowly thicken the milk and cream with egg yolks, but without the right TLC, you’ll end up with a pot of scrambled eggs. The first key to success is tempering your yolks. What this means is slowly whisking in the hot cream to the yolks to begin to heat them, preventing them from seizing up when added to the hot cream. Once you’ve tackled that, the next step is to slowly, but constantly stir your custard until it thickens to a nappe consistency. (That’s just a fancy French term for coating the back of a wooden spoon and holding a line when you run your finger across it.) Then just strain and you’ve now mastered the art of a perfect custard. Congratulations!
All that’s left is to whisk in the chocolate, divide between ramekins (or jars/coupes/food-safe tchotchkes/etc.) and you’re set! While I stand by the stunning spice of ginger in this recipe, you can pivot in any flavor direction you want. Swap in chili powder, orange zest, rose water, rosemary or any other ingredient that can stand up to the chocolate. You’re going to be sweet on more than just your Valentine, just sayin’.
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 5 minutes
Yield: Serves or Makes 4-6
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, cream and fresh ginger over medium heat; bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk sugar, ground ginger, salt and egg yolks until pale yellow and smooth. Slowly whisk in 1 cup of simmering milk mixture into the yolk mixture then reduce heat of saucepan to medium-low and stir in the tempered egg yolks. With a wooden spoon, stir constantly until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes (the mixture should coat the back of the spoon and hold a line drawn with your finger).
Strain custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl, then whisk in chocolate until completely melted and incorporated. Divide between ramekins or small glass jars. Will make 4 cups of filling to satisfy about 4 (10-ounce) jars or 6 (8-ounce) jars. Chill in refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
When ready to serve, let each pot de crème sit at room temperature for 30 minutes, then garnish with whipped creme fraiche, shaved dark chocolate and chopped crystallized ginger and serve.