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Monday, January 30, 2012

Low-Fat Chocolate Pots de Creme

We had our good friends, Astrid and Roger over to the house for a tour of the new place.  It was a lovely visit and I made a French-inspired dinner on Saturday night -  salad with Dijon vinaigrette, roasted root vegetables of artichokes, fennel, baby zucchini and onions; strip steaks, boiled heritage potatoes.  We finished it off with a decadent dessert of chocolate pots de creme - made a bit less fattening thanks to a recipe from Cooking Light and tweaked in my Bicycle-Chef way - swapping out cream or half and half with non-fat evaporated milk and skim milks.  We always have the best visits and meals with Astrid and Roger, great wines and stimulating conversations.  I wanted to keep the meal simple but still have it be special.  Dinner was an easy and largely uninvolved affair - chopped the vegetables and tossed them into a 425 degree oven. While the potatoes boiled, I grilled the steaks on a grill pan for 5 minutes per side and finished them in the oven.  The only cooking labour was done the day before - as the chocolate puddings need to be cooked ahead of time and chilled at least 6 hours or over-night.  

This is a dessert that can be a week-night treat or made for a special occasion.  You can make this as inexpensively as you want or go all out and splurge on a great bar of super dark premium bittersweet chocolate.  I used pantry staples, Nestle Dark Morsels.  The chocolate pots de creme tasted rich and luscious and satisfied my chocolate sweet tooth.  Use good, fresh eggs.  I had a coupon for a free dozen Land O'Lake Eggs from FoodBuzz, my blog sponsor.  I like these eggs a lot, especially when I want to find eggs with a deep orange yolk and full-eggy flavor.  It can be hard to find great eggs in a supermarket that doesn't sell true farm fresh or organic eggs.  I think the Land O'Lake Eggs are the best purchase in the supermarket that aren't from a local farm. I swear the yolks are as orange as marigold petals and taste even better than some eggs I've dropped a five spot on from a locally sourced farmer at the local farmer's market. 

This is a basic custard.  Knowing that the eggs help set the liquid and that the melted chocolate will become solid again will help you understand how easy it is to make this!  You can use all skim or low-fat milk, or use a combination of fat-free evaporated milk for a slightly richer taste along with the skim or low-fat milk.  The original recipe (as seen at this link here) had 3/4 cups of sugar; I cut it down to 1/2 cup since the evaporated milk is a bit sweeter than regular milk (but not as sweet as sweetened condensed milk, so don't confuse them!); the chocolate chips are sweet enough too.  I don't have a food scale, I didn't exactly measure out 4 ounces of chocolate. I guessed and used 1/2 the 10 ounce bag of chocolate chips - which means I used about 5 ounces of chocolate.  Another good reason to have cut down the sugar.   Once you've mastered the recipe, experiment with other flavors by steeping in orange peel, coffee, or liqueurs into the milk- you name it!  

Low-Fat Chocolate Pots de Creme Ingredients:
  • 1 Can Non-Fat Evaporated Milk (about 12 ounces or 1 1/2 Cups)
  • 1 Cup Non-Fat Regular Milk
  • 1/2 Cup White Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Large Eggs - beaten
  • 4 to 5 ounces of Dark, Semi or Bitter Sweet Chocolate Chips or a Good, Dark Chocolate Bar - Chopped (use 65% to 72%)

Equipment: 
  • 8- 4 ounce ramekins or oven-proof demi-tasse cups or other 4 ounce oven-safe cups or bowls
  • 9 x 13 baking pan
  • Whisk
  • Measuring Cups & Spoons
  • Mixing bowls
  • 3 or 4 quart sauce pot

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the ramekins or cups into a 9 by 13 baking pan; set aside.
  2. Heat water in a tea kettle for baking the chocolate pots in a water bath; keep the water at a simmer.
  3. Beat the two eggs and vanilla extract together lightly in a mixing bowl; set aside.
  4. In a 3 or 4 quart sauce pot, whisk together the non-fat evaporated milk, the skim milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt and bring the mixture almost to a boil, whisking the mixture together to dissolve the sugar and cocoa powder.  Once the mixture resembles hot chocolate and everything is dissolved, remove from heat.
  5. Place the chocolate chips into a heat-safe mixing bowl.  Pour the hot cocoa and milk mixture over the chocolate chips and whisk to combine and melt the chocolate.  
  6. Slowly whisk 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten eggs to temper them; whisk in another 1/4 cup of the hot milk into the eggs, then pour the tempered eggs into the remaining hot milk mixture, whisking thoroughly.  
  7. Ladle 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time into each of the ramekins until each is full, leaving about a 1/8 of an inch from the rim.  Fill all the ramekins/cups with the custard. Fill the baking pan with 1-inch of hot water.  Carefully place the filled baking pan into the center of the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center of the chocolate custards comes out clean. 
  8. Carefully remove the ramekins from their water bath, and cool each of them on a wire rack completely before refrigerating. Chill thoroughly, 6 hours or over-night before serving.  Makes 8 servings.  Each 4 ounce chocolate pot de creme is about 200 calories, with approximately 7.5 grams of fat.

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