Seriously! The creation of this recipe required three attempts. Since I am my own taste tester (someone has to do it!) I can tell you that it was pretty fun to eat all three (different days– don’t worry.) The little French custards that are Pots de Crème have been famous at the Small Table basically forever. But how do you make just one Pot de Crème? Allow me to introduce you to a dangerous recipe– and an excellent use for just one egg yolk. (Use the white here.)
Since I don’t believe in wild eating most of the time, I avoided using heavy cream. In its place is a little 5-ounce can of evaporated milk. This provides more richness than regular milk, while not going overboard. Do get the full-fat version, as I have not tested with anything less.
The one virtue you must practice while making your Pot is patience. The recipe is quick and easy, but has to be cooked over low heat, and stirred the whole time. That’s not very long, but you have to do it or the bottom will burn. Bleckh. Then you have to have a little more patience if you want to eat it cold– one hour in the fridge, to be precise. You can eat it before then, but I think it’s best when chilled.
Mix the cornstarch and cold milk together in a tiny bowl until smooth. (Disregard the chocolate specks in there– I used the same little bowl!)
In a small saucepan over low heat (my settings go from one to ten, and I use “two”), combine the evaporated milk, egg yolk, chocolate, cinnamon, and milk/corn starch slurry. (Yes sir-y. It’s called a slurry. Sorry.)
Aside #1: You will not taste the cinnamon. Just as many recipes use coffee to heighten the chocolate flavor, I use cinnamon here to do the same thing. I don’t drink coffee, and so I don’t use it in my cooking.)
Aside #2: Do not worry about uncooked egg yolk here. You will be cooking the mixture to at least 165ºF, and according to the FDA, egg yolks are fully cooked at 160ºF. If you don’t have a thermometer (get one!) you will be OK because the cornstarch won’t start to thicken the mixture until around 165º– at which point you are totally in the clear.
So, once you have everything in the pan, begin to stir. You can use a whisk, or a spoon. Just make sure to stir moderately and constantly, scraping around the bottom to make sure that everything is getting evenly mixed and rotated. DO NOT LET IT BOIL AT ANY POINT. After several minutes (depending on your pan and your stove), you will notice the mixture begin to thicken. Keep stirring. Lift the pan off the heat every so often and give it a really good stir to make sure no bottom parts are getting over-cooked.
When it thickly coats the back of a spoon, you are ready to pour it into your serving pot. Choose a good-looking cup or dessert dish– treat yourself! Pop it into the fridge and let it chill for an hour or so. Top with whipped cream to serve, then enjoy this decadent treat!
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