Mexican Chocolate Pot de Crème

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

The first time I put chili powder in a baked good, the face my little brother made told it all. Not like that in itself is all that unusual; generally, anything that isn’t vanilla, lemon or cinnamon flavored meets with that reaction from him. It can make baking at home rather boring, with a couple of people on diets and the only person who eats unashamedly being such a picky eater. But anyway, they were chili chocolate chip cookies — the slice and bake kind — and they were a bit of a let down. Too much cinnamon, not spicy enough, and a little hard, in the stale kind of way. Not a disaster, in fact my mom ate them straight from the freezer for about a month afterwards, but not capable of convincing the brother to give new flavors another chance. Thankfully, I had a chance to try again with a new dessert, and best of all, a new audience, which was a bit more receptive to adventurous sweets.

We occasionally throw dinner parties, and, when not in the middle of summer, they don’t always involve the picnic table, the backyard and barbequed fish — though this being California, they still, quite often, do anyway. For this one for instance, I made a trio of desserts: goat cheese custards with red wine reduction, tiny, spicy ginger drop cookies, and these little pots of Mexican chocolate custard. The grainy texture of Mexican chocolate and the heat that arrives after the initial smooth sweetness come through in the finished custard, giving the dessert more of a bite than your standard pot de crème.

It was one of those dinners — as it had to be with three desserts — that seemed to last forever in good company and I sent our guests home with huge bags of ginger drops at the end of the night. A couple of weeks later I got a package in the mail, with a book about the independence struggle in Algeria which we had discussed at dinner. I like surprises. And I love getting mail. Maybe that explains why I had ten billion pen pals as a young girl. And why my dorm room is decorated with postcards.

Mexican Chocolate Pot de Crème

Adapted from The Perfect Pantry
I submitted this post to the Sugar High Friday dessert blogging event, which bakes under a different theme every month. September’s theme was “Sweet Heat” and you can find the roundup of desserts here at the end of the month.

2 cups whipping cream, chilled
6 oz. Mexican chocolate (2 disks minus one small wedge), finely chopped
5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

In a saucepan over low heat, heat the whipping cream to the simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Then whisk in the chocolate and milk mixture. Pour the finished mixture through a strainer into a large clean bowl.

Place 6-8 small ramekins in a deep baking dish, such as a brownie pan. Distribute the mixture evenly among the ramekins. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 minutes or until the custard is just set around the edges.

Remove the pan from oven and remove the custards from the water. Let them cool and then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Sugar High Fridays November Announcement #71

November 1, 2010 § 6 Comments

This is my first time ever hosting a baking challenge and I’m so nervous, anxious and excited. This month, I am hosting Sugar High Fridays, which was started in 2004 by Jennifer, the Domestic Goddess.

I’ve gone back and forth on a lot of themes — you know the age-old rounds of thinking and second-guessing — before finally settling on one that I’m pretty confident in. The theme for this month’s Sugar High Fridays will be “Desserts with a Hidden Surprise.” For this event, you can make any dessert provided it includes a center that is different from the exterior; an example of such would be those yummy chocolate cookies with the peanut butter center ☺

Make a dessert and blog about it between today and the 22th of November (the Monday). Send me an email at with SHF as the subject.

If you do not have a blog, please send me your post with recipe and picture and I’ll post it in the roundup.

Please be sure to include a link in your post to Jennifer’s SHF page and this announcement. In your email, please include:

The name of your blog:
The name of your recipe and the url of your SHF post
A very brief description of your dessert
A 300px wide picture of your dessert, if possible

Archived posts are welcome, although be sure to re-publish it during November with the required links. Also, please note that you may enter your SHF submission for only one more food blog event.

SHF: Salted Browned Butter Shortbread

August 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

Right as I was enjoying wearing boots and sweatshirts, an ungodly heat wave hit San Francisco. On a Monday afternoon, people flocked to the parks to picnic and schools kids complained about having to go to school right as the San Francisco summer finally got started. A run along Ocean Beach saw large clumps of people playing in the waves and cars overfilling the lots along the Great Highway. At midnight, I climbed to the top of Bernal Hill and walked out along Pier 1 with some old friends — all without long pants or a scarf, which is my standard get-up in this city.

This morning I stumbled out of bed, still in pajama boxers and my hair sticking every which way, and out the front door to take pictures in the gentle morning sun. In a couple of hours, the hot, dry sun will be beating down and I’ll have started a run along the tide line, hopefully barefoot, if I can find someone to shuttle my shoes around the city. Or maybe I’ll wait to run until the evening and cross the peak of Diamond Heights as the fog rolls in, when you can barely see three feet in front of you. As you climb to the peak, the air seems to thin and the wind comes from all directions, its cold blasts spurring you down the hill on the other side. Today, the day is temperamental, summer one moment and the perfect misty setting for a horror film the next.

But as I settle in to write, it is still morning and I am back in the house. I’ve poured myself a tall glass of iced tea with a kick of mint and made open-faced sandwiches with juicy heirloom tomatoes that were just waiting to be sliced. Ah, summer.

These browned butter cookies pair just as well with iced tea as they do with a cup of hot tea. And with the weather changing every day, I keep a roll of cookie dough in the fridge, so that I am ready to bake off a couple when the winds change. Nutty and sandy, with a touch of sea salt on top, these cookies bring to mind summer days collecting sand dollars, with your toes in the wet sand and the harsh coastal wind in your face.

I made these shortbread cookies for this month’s Sugar High Friday, hosted by Elissa at 17 and Baking. Elissa picked browned butter or beurre noisette as the theme of the month, you can see all the details on her blog. Sugar High Fridays were started by Jennifer at The Domestic Goddess. This is the first time that I am partaking in the group challenge.

Salted Browned Butter Shortbread
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook via Bake List and Kitchen Meditation

1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 generous pinch kosher salt
Fleur de sel for topping

Cream the butters and sugar together. Then add the vanilla, and slowly add the flour and kosher salt. Shape the dough into a log and refrigerate for at least half an hour. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut slices of the log approximately 1/4 inch thick and put cookies onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the edges are browned. After removing from the oven sprinkle each of the cookies with a touch of fleur de sel.

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