Our recipe for luxuriously smooth pots de crème is elevated with a dark and rich burnt caramel flavor profile. Because a little of these rich custards goes a long way, bake them in espresso cups and bring them to the table to let your guests enjoy at the end of a meal. They can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Allow them to come to room temperature before serving. We enjoy topping ours with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.
Yields: 12 Servings Time: About 8 hours
3/4 cups granulated cane sugar
1 tablespoon water
3/4 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
5 (3 3/4 ounces) extra-large eggs
2 1/2 ounces dark milk chocolate, finely chopped
Put the sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Use an unlined copper pan if you have one.
Stir to mix the water and sugar. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the sugar melts. Then continue to cook, without stirring, until the sugar turns dark amber, 4 to 5 minutes. To check the color, dab a small amount of the syrup on a white plate. If any crystals form on the sides of the pot as the sugar darkens, wash them down with a wet pastry brush.
While the sugar is cooking, combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
When the sugar is the correct shade of dark amber, remove the pan from the heat and put a sieve or splatter guard over it.
Wearing an oven mitt, slowly pour the hot cream into the sugar syrup a little at a time. The mixture will sputter and foam. Be careful, as it is very hot. When the mixture stops bubbling, whisk it to incorporate any caramel stuck to the bottom.
Next, place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk by hand until blended. Whisk about 1/2 cup of the caramel mixture into the yolks to warm them gradually. Add another 1 cup of the caramel mixture and whisk. Add remaining caramel mixture and whisk.
Add the chocolate to the caramel-yolk mixture and whisk until it melts.
Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Spoon the custard into twelve 2 1/2- Ounce espresso cups (or a similar-sized oven-safe cup), filling them three-fourths full. Let the custard cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 300F and bring a large tea kettle of water to a simmer.
Place the espresso cups in a large baking pan. Pour the hot water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pan with Aluminum foil.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until the tops are set but the entire custard jiggles when a cup is moved, about 25 minutes.
Immediately remove the cups from the hot water. Let cool to room temperature.
Cover each cup and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. Bring to room temperature before serving.