Although I expected it to resemble chocolate pudding, pots de creme actually taste more like a cross between a ganache and a mousse. It’s very rich and chocolate-y, so you need the whipped cream on top to cut some of that intensity. Also, since chocolate is such a key component, it’s worth it to splurge on nicer chocolate.
Chocolate Pots de Creme Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Yield: 2 servings
For the pots de creme:
2 1/2 oz high-quality bittersweet chocolate (I used their recommendation, the Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Premium Baking Bar), chopped finely
2 large egg yolks
3-4 teaspoons granulated sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon water
1/8 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the whipped cream:
1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
1 1/2 – 2 teaspoons powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want it
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
Place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set a fine-mesh strainer over it. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt. Whisk in cream.
Transfer to a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly and scrapping the bottom of the saucepan with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is thickened and silky, 3-6 minutes. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the mixture should be 175-180°F. (I don’t have one, so I cooked until the mixture coated the back of a spoon.) Don’t overcook or let custard come to a simmer, or it will curdle. (It will still taste great, though.)
Immediately pour custard through the strainer over the chocolate.
Let stand for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate, then whisk until smooth.
In a small bowl, stir together water and espresso powder.
Whisk dissolved espresso plus vanilla into the chocolate mixture.
Divide mixture evenly between two ramekins or small bowls. Tap gently on the counter to get rid of air bubbles. (If you overcooked your custard, the liquids and solids will separate somewhat here. Don’t worry, it will still taste great in the end.)
Let pots de creme cool completely, about 1 hour, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 4 hours. They will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Bring them back out to stand at room temperature for 20-30 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, in a medium mixing bowl with a handheld mixer, beat cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy.
Increase speed to high and beat 1-3 more minutes, or until soft peaks form.
Dollop whipped cream over chocolate pots de creme. If you curdled your custard, you can spread the whipped cream over the top to hide that.
It’s a little hard to describe how peach-yogurt semifreddo tastes, but it’s kind of like a cross between ice cream and whipped cream, with a delicious tang coming from the yogurt, lemon juice, and peaches. It’s pretty and elegant and a great way to use up substandard peaches.
3 tablespoons lemon juice (preferably fresh, but from concentrate is fine)
Line 8”x4″ loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a generous overhang on all sides.
Cook peaches and 1/4 cup sugar in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until peaches are softened and sugar is dissolved and bubbling a little, about 5 minutes. (You can use a small non-stick pot too, but then you might need to increase the time to 10 minutes.)
Transfer to a blender and purée until smooth. Pour into a shallow dish and let cool.
Meanwhile, whisk egg whites, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup sugar in a medium heatproof bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let bowl touch water). Cook, whisking constantly, until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch, 2–4 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat egg mixture until tripled in volume, and glossy and sticky, about 10 minutes.
Whisk yogurt and lemon juice in a large bowl.
Gently stir in a large dollop of the egg whites to lighten the mixture. Then, using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the rest of the egg whites in 2-3 additions. Fold just until combined.
Transfer half of the yogurt mixture to prepared pan; smooth surface.
Swirl half of the peach mixture into yogurt layer with a spoon, then repeat with remaining yogurt and peach mixtures.
Fold plastic wrap overhang over top to seal and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours. Semifreddo can be frozen for up to 3 days.
Unwrap semifreddo and, using plastic overhang, gently lift from pan. Invert semifreddo onto a cutting board, remove plastic wrap, and let sit at least 10 minutes to soften. Slice, transfer to plates, and serve.
Almond-crisped peaches are like self-contained peach crumbles. The topping is crunchy, and the inside of the peach is tender, sweet, and juicy. They are a great way to use up any substandard, mealy peaches you might have in your fridge.
1/3 cup (55 grams) whole almonds OR 55 g (6-7 tablespoons) almond meal OR 55 g finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup (50 grams) sugar
3 tablespoons (45 grams) cold unsalted butter, cubed if using whole almonds, melted if using almond meal or finely chopped almonds
1/4 cup (20 grams) oats
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking dish or sheet with aluminum foil for ease of cleanup.
Halve peaches and remove pits. Place fruit cut side up in baking dish or sheet.
If using whole almonds: In a food processor, grind almonds and sugar together until coarsely ground (with a few pebbles left). Add oats, cinnamon, and salt, then butter, pulsing the machine until the ingredients are just blended.
If using almond meal or finely chopped almonds: In a small bowl, stir together almonds, sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt. Then stir in melted butter.
Spoon the almond mixture into the center of each peach, then press it flat, as if icing the tops of the peaches with it.
Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour (baking time varies with peach size), until the top is brown and crisp and you can easily slice through the fruit with a fork or spoon.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with creme fraiche, lightly sweetened whipped cream, or even plain yogurt, cold, for breakfast.
The combination of buckwheat flour and spices gives these muffins a unique, almost savory flavor. They’re definitely worth trying if you like buckwheat flour.
Apple Spice Pecan Muffins
Adapted from Pastry Love
Yield: 12 muffins
1/2 cup pecan halves, roughly chopped
1 cup almond flour
2/3 – 3/4 cup powdered sugar, depending on how sweet you want them
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon kosher salt OR 3/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup flavorless vegetable oil, such as canola
3 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 medium apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped into 1/4-1/2″ pieces (about 1 cup)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a 12-cup regular muffin tin with paper liners, or butter the cups and flour them with almond or buckwheat flour, or spray generously with baking spray. Set aside.
Place pecans on a baking sheet and toast for 8-10 minutes, or until they start to smell nutty and turn pale golden inside. Set aside. Leave the oven on.
In a medium bowl, stir together almond flour, powdered sugar, buckwheat flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, nutmeg, and cloves until well combined.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, egg yolks, and almond extract.
Make a well in the almond flour mixture, pour in the oil mixture, and use a rubber spatula to fold them together.
In a clean bowl with an electric mixer, or with a clean whisk by hand, whip the egg whites until they get foamy like seafoam and can hold a very soft peak that falls right over. You don’t want them to get too stiff, or they will be hard to fold into the batter.
Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites, 1/3 of the apple, and 1/3 of the pecans to the batter and gently fold them in.
Fold in the remaining egg whites, apple, and pecans. Try not to knock too much air out of the egg whites.
Scoop the batter evenly into the prepared muffin tins, filling them all the way to the top.
Bake 25-35 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through, until the muffins are entirely golden brown on top and spring back lightly when you press them in the middle. A tester inserted into the middle of a muffin should come out clean.
Let cool in tin on a wire rack for 20 minutes.
Muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2-3 days. You can heat them briefly in a 300°F oven for 4-5 minutes. To freeze, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in freezer for up to 1 week. Reheat in a 300°F oven for 8-10 minutes.
Yield: 2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you are
1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg (optional)
2 cups buttermilk OR 2/3 cup plain yogurt+1 1/3 cups milk OR 2 tablespoons white vinegar +enough milk to make 2 cups (let vinegar and milk sit for 5 minutes)
Vegetable oil, for greasing the pan
Heat a well-seasoned griddle, cast iron skillet, or nonstick pan on medium heat. The pan or griddle should be ready for the batter as soon as it is mixed.
In a large bowl, stir together buckwheat flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.
Pour the melted butter over the dry ingredients and stir in.
Add the buttermilk OR yogurt+milk OR vinegar+milk. Stir just until everything is combined. Do not over-mix! A few lumps are fine.
Put a small amount (about 1/2 teaspoon) vegetable oil on the pan or griddle and spread it around with a paper towel to coat.
Ladle batter onto the hot surface to the desired size, about 4-5 inches wide. (A 1/4 cup measure will ladle about a 4-inch pancake.) Reduce the heat to medium-low.
Watch for bubbles on the surface of the pancake. When air bubbles start to rise to the surface at the center of the pancake, flip the pancake. Depending on how hot your stove runs, this can happen in 1-3 minutes, so watch for the bubbles and check the edges of the pancake with a spatula to see if it can be flipped. Don’t worry if the bottom is somewhat burnt; it will be nice and crisp.
Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until nicely browned. Again, cooking time depends on your stove, so keep checking the bottom.
Spread more oil on the pan as needed between batches of pancakes.
Serve warm with butter and/or maple syrup. Lemon curd also tastes good.