Our journey takes us into a world where ancient fruit meets the dark soul of the cacao bean. A torrid affair of vine and pod. Okay, so maybe it was just a recipe for Pot de Crème on the back of a bottle of Cline Cellars “Ancient Vines” Contra Costa County Mourvèdre, still it had me rather excited.
Who knew there were wine producers out there offering up not just pairing suggestions on their labels, but actual recipes? Not me. And here I try to claim I’m a wine-loving, Foodie… bah!
As it turns out, I may have been alone in my ignorance. A fellow, ” Amante del Vino” pal on Instagram chimed in telling me he liked a fig offering found on another bottle. I’ll have to ferret that one out seeing-as-how our four fig trees leave us flush with fruit come Fall.
With a few tweaks, and a little personal flair, here is my take on Pot de Crème a la Cline Cellars;
Dark Chocolate Pot de Crème
3.5 oz 60% Cacao content Dark Chocolate
3.5 0z 85% (or greater) Cacao Dark Chocolate
1 cup Whole Milk (do not substitute with skim or lower fat milk, your end results won’t be as luscious)
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
1/3 cup Sugar
1 tsp Pure Extract Vanilla
6 Large Egg Yolks
Optional: Seeds of one vanilla pod. I added these to the heavy cream.
Small Sauce Pan, Chef’s Knife, Ladle, Whisk or Electric Mixer, Roasting Pan, 4-6 Pot-de-Crème cups, small ramekins or teacups.
Preheat oven to 325°
Whisk or mix mix egg yolks and sugar together until blended. JUST until blended, no need to go crazy here. If you end up with any foam on top, just scoop that off.
Roughly chop your chocolate, and pile it onto a cutting board, or any surface that will make it easy to convey it to the stove top. Combine milk and cream in the small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Add in vanilla and vanilla bean (if using). Then add in chocolate and gently stir until melted.
A few words on Tempering: In my early years of learning to cook – while living in Spain – I attempted a Blood Orange Pot de Crème-esque recipe for a Feria celebration. What I ended up with was sweet, orange and sherry flavored scrambled eggs. Plus “egg” all over my face. I hadn’t yet learned about tempering.
Boiled down to basics, Tempering is the process of gradually adding a substance (in this case our huevos – eggs) of a lower temperature to a substance of a higher temperature (our milk and chocolate mixture) so that the temperatures regulate without one overpowering the other. Were we to just dump our eggs into the chocolate without Tempering them, we’d end up with… anybody?…. Bueller?
Yup, Chocolate Scrambled Eggs. Yum. NOT!
So let us Temper.
Divide your mixture into the serving dishes of your choice. I’d suggest smaller portion sizes as the dessert is very rich. I used four medium sized ramekins and they were just too large.
Place filled dishes into roasting pan. Pour hot water into the pan, enough to fill up to 1/3 of the way up the side of your serving dishes. If you are not using traditional Pot de Crème pots, cover the pan with foil.
Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon your oven. You’ll know when they are done by checking to see that they are set but still a little “quivery” in the center by shaking the cup a little.
I like to serve them warm, but you can let them cool for 30 minutes and then pop them in the fridge for two hours before serving. Garnish with some confectioners sugar, maybe a berry?
I’ve always been of a mind that wine goes with pretty much anything. Some wines go better with some foods, but really it is all about enjoying the food, drink and company. This time though there was magic in the making.
We had the Cline Mourvèdre with dinner. The wine that was perfectly pleasant, a little spicy, with a nip of mint as we enjoyed it with Mushroom Risotto at dinner was transformed at dessert. Had I not poured it myself, I would have sworn we’d been drinking something entirely different. It became mellow, almost as silky as creme that slipped from the spoon, and berries floated on my tongue.
The story ends with the best part, the magic of a perfect pairing; Wine & Chocolate.