Inspiration comes in many packages. These chocolate orange pots de creme are the result of a baking mistake. I set out to make them for a recent dinner party, but I forgot to cover the ramekins while they baked in the oven. Covering the ramekins allows the chocolate to set without a thicker top crust forming and detracting from a smooth and creamy consistency throughout the entire pudding.
My pots de creme were smooth and creamy on the inside, but the top had a firmer mottled texture. The taste was the same, but not the look. So I decided to cover the surface with a granular topping, which would provide a pleasing and distracting crunch while hiding my mistake. I rubbed the zest of an orange into a bowl of sugar. The sugar helped to separate the grains of zest, while the orange added a colorful tinge to the sugar.
To serve, I garnished each ramekin with a dollop of whipped cream and showered the cream and chocolate with the orange sugar. To top it off, I sprinkled a few grains of fleur de sel over each, although any sea salt is fine. It was delicious. The orange sugar added a confectionary crunch before dissolving in the mouth, leaving a lingering wisp of sea salt. I love it when delicious mistakes like this happen.
You will need to begin making this dessert one day before serving to allow the chocolate to set overnight.
Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme With Fleur de Sel
Active Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes, plus overnight chilling
Yield: Makes 6 (3/4 cup/6-ounce) ramekins
Pots de creme:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier (optional)
Finely grated zest from one untreated navel orange
1/3 cup sugar
Fleur de Sel (or flakes of another sea salt, such as Maldon)
Make the pots de creme: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over medium until it just begins to simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the chocolate until melted and smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until blended. Add the cream to the eggs in a steady stream, whisking constantly to combine. Stir in the orange liqueur, if using, and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Cool 5 minutes, then pour the mixture into 6 (3/4 cup) ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a baking pan and fill the pan with boiling water halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the ramekins with foil and transfer to oven. Bake until the mousse is set but still a little wobbly when jiggled, about 55 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath, remove the foil and cool completely on a wire rack.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Before serving, make the whipped cream: Beat the cream in a bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk appear. Add the sugar and Grand Marnier and continue to beat until soft peaks form. Chill until use.
Make the orange sugar: Combine the zest and sugar in a small bowl and rub with your fingers to evenly distribute the zest.
To serve, evenly sprinkle the orange sugar over each ramekin. Top with a dollop of cream in the center, and sprinkle with additional sugar and a few grains of fleur de sel.
CAPTIONS AND CREDITS