Where is the sun? Weather has been pretty awful over the last weeks, perhaps an early indication for moody April weather? Unlike other parts of Bavaria, Munich didn’t get tons of snow – but with the recent rain, we did end up with plenty of slush. Slush and I don’t see eye to eye, in fact I’d rather have piles of snow or simply just rain. Anyway, last week I returned home late from work and in a hurry to get myself out of a pair of wet boots, when O. stopped me on our doorstep.
Update: delicious:days made it into the “Netdiver Best of the Year 2005” selection. Netdiver, one of the most recognized new media design portals, run by new media pioneer Carole Guevin, has always been an excellent source of inspiration for us – going way back, years before the idea of delicious:days was born.
Holding a blue pick-up ticket under my nose, “Got a new book?! They dropped it off at the neighbors, maybe you want to see if they’re home [now] to pick it up.” Ha, music to my ears! I made an Olympic worthy pirouette and ran down to the first floor, where we have a doctor’s office, our usual collecting point for all the ‘undelivered’ packages in the house. A “Nope, sorry, no package for you today!” is all I got. Wait! Maybe I should have taken a closer look at the pick-up ticket O. just gave me – ahhh, our upstairs neighbors took delivery of it, alright then, all the way up to the fifth. Can you spell work-out? Anyway, what’s some physical ed for a new cookbook? While I was climbing up the stairs, I was going through all open orders I could think of… Were there any open orders? Hmmm, before I came with an answer I reached the doorstep of the C’s, and rang the bell.
I’m sure I have mentioned the nice people in our apartment building before, and as expected we started chatting away and I almost forgot to ask for the package. G. told me, that the postman changed his daily route and now stops at our house every morning at 7am (??) and he once told her -quite unhappily- that he thinks we’re an ordering-crazy-house… She must have seen that little flare of frustration when she told me, that in the morning just after she took it from the postman, she passed it on to our immediate neighbor (same floor as us). So I thanked her, and began the descent. I probably looked like the proverbial headless chicken. Back on our own floor, I rang at R’s door only to find out that no one was home. A little disappointed I finally stepped into our apartment. “G. handed the package to R., but R. isn’t home!” I whinged in the direction I assumed Oliver’s whereabouts. A brief moment of silence, followed by a “Oh, *cough* that may be the package that R. gave me this morning…“. What!?! I had a brief visual of my fingers closing quickly around his neck…when his head popped out the door, asking if the pick-up ticket belonged to the package he already received?!?! Men????!
With all the anticipation in the air, I ripped open the package to find the cutest gift: “Chocolate Obsession” by Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage, with a lovely note attached to the back from dear S and D. You guys rock! Within no time the book had 5 Post-Its, marking the first recipes to try. Here is Burnt Caramel Pots de Crème. Yum, yum, yuuum.
Add water and sugar to a medium sized pot and stir at medium heat. Continue to stir occasionally until the sugar melts. Stop stirring and cook until the sugar turns dark amber (about 5 minutes).
Meanwhile combine cream and milk in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
Once the sugar is the right color, remove from the heat and step by step add the hot cream. The mix will splatter and foam, so do it slowly – first add half a cup, then a cup, then the rest. Whisk well to remove any burnt caramel from the bottom of the pot.
Add the egg yolks to a bowl, whisk well and slowly add the caramel mix. Again, start with a small amount, to warm the egg yolks gradually. Then add the chopped chocolate (had to nearly double the amount, until I found the right taste for me) and whisk until it melts completely.
Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve and spoon into several small cups. I’m sure it’s obvious, but due to the desserts’ richness small cups are totally fine. I used both espresso cups and mini muffin cups, because I wasn’t sure if the crème would really set in the higher espresso cups, something I had experienced troubles with earlier.
Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Place the cups in a large enough casserole or other deep baking dish and fill it up with the hot water until it reaches about halfway up the cups’ sides. The original recipe calls for covering the pan with aluminum foil and baking the crème for about 25 minutes, so the top is set, but the custard as a whole still jiggles when tapped. I removed the aluminum foil after 25 minutes and nothing was set (yes, I used an oven thermometer…). So I decided to discard the foil and leave it in the oven for a few more minutes. Turns out, after 20 more minutes I had the results I was looking for and I removed the cups from the hot water.
Note: Not sure why it took so much longer to bake, but to be on the safe side, check after the first 20 minutes and use your gut feel to decide if it needs more time.
You’re supposed to refrigerate them over night and then serve at room temperature, but I just couldn’t stop myself from sampling them still warm. Amazing consistency! Velvety, silky texture, melting in your mouth. And very, very rich! The kind of dessert you spoon into your mouth thoughtfully, nothing to finish within a minute or two. My favorite way eating it was straight out of the fridge though -as cold as possible- with the custard quite firm, leaving an exceptional impression on your tongue. In my opinion this also takes away a little of the desserts’ richness, whichever way, absolutely worth a try! My only complaint: Taste-wise, I’d choose caramel over burnt caramel – the next time I try with regular caramel (light golden shade) and not the darker version. But then again, “burnt caramel” sound so much more extravagant ;)
Burnt Caramel Pots de Crème
Recipe source: Chocolate Obsession, Michael Recchiuti & Fran Gage, p.126, adapted
Prep time: 20 min., baking: 45 min.
Ingredients (serves 4-6, depending on cup size):
90g cane sugar
1 tbsp water
90ml whole milk
230g heavy whipping cream
3 large egg yolks
80g milk chocolate (I used Lindt)