Pots de crème are French custards made with cream, sugar, egg yolks, and flavorings. They bear a dense, silky, pudding-like texture via a gentle water bath in the oven.
Pots de crème come in a variety of flavors, from classic vanilla to salted caramel to chocolate. Traditionally, they are eaten chilled, making them the ideal make-ahead dessert. I like to serve them for special occasions, date nights, and holidays—especially for Valentine's Day.
Chocolate pot de crème takes advantage of chocolate's rich flavor for a decadent, creamy dessert. It's not too sweet, but very chocolate-forward. I like to top each ramekin with a spoonful of whipped cream and chocolate shavings. If I'm using bittersweet chocolate, I will often sprinkle a bit of flaky salt.
Let the Chocolate Shine With Bittersweet Chocolate Bars
I prefer to use bittersweet chocolate bars to really let the chocolate flavor shine. If you choose to make these for a special occasion, I recommend purchasing high-quality chocolate from Valrhona, Callebaut, or Guittard. You can also use chocolate chips, though they sometimes have added ingredients that can affect the custard's ability to set properly. However, in testing, I found that Guittard's chocolate chips worked successfully.
Replace the bittersweet chocolate with milk chocolate for a sweeter, creamier texture. The custard will set but won't have as dense of a consistency as bittersweet chocolate.
Helpful Tips for Making Pot de for Crème
Keep these tips in mind when making the dessert to ensure a delicious result.
- Melt the chocolate completely: Many recipes have you whisk the chocolate into the hot cream, but I found that sometimes the chocolate wouldn't fully melt. I would see bits of separated chocolate here and there, almost like sediment. If the chocolate isn't incorporated properly, it won't set correctly in the oven. Instead, ladle 1/2 cup of the hot liquid into a bowl with the chocolate, then whisk until homogeneous (a lesser amount of liquid allows for better mixing). Then, pour the whisked chocolate into the rest of the cream base.
- Temper the eggs to prevent curdling: If you add the egg yolks directly into the hot cream, they will immediately curdle. Instead, you will want to temper the eggs (bring them up to temperature) by ladling a half-cup of the hot liquid into the egg mixture and whisk constantly until combined. Pour the egg mixture into the chocolate base and continue whisking until homogeneous.
- Strain the custard base: Make sure to strain the custard base to prevent any small bits of curdled egg from getting into the pots de crème.
You’ll Get the Smoothest Texture Using a Water Bath
For the silkiest, smoothest texture, the pots de crème should be cooked in a water bath (also known as a bain-marie). Water baths help evenly cook custards and prevent curdling. Cheesecakes and crème brûlée are two other types of desserts that use this technique. Both desserts boast an equally silky, creamy texture.
Here's how to use a water bath for chocolate pots de crème:
- Place your ramekins in a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. To prevent your ramekins from moving around, you can optionally lay a kitchen towel on the bottom of the pan, then place the ramekins on top.
- Fill ramekins with custard.
- Carefully pour hot water into the sides of the baking pan. You're aiming to add enough water to cover 2/3 the height of the ramekins. Use a spouted measuring cup or a hot water kettle to reduce spillage.
- Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil, then prick the foil with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Flavoring With Extracts or Liqueurs
These chocolate pots de crème use vanilla extract, but you could flavor them with any type of extract or liqueur you like. Simply substitute the vanilla for an equal amount of another extract, such as almond or coffee extract.
For orange-infused pots de crème:
- Add 1 teaspoon of fresh orange zest to the milk and cream before heating the liquid.
- After adding the chocolate to the warm dairy, cover the pot with a lid and let steep for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and heat the saucepan to low for a minute or two until the liquid is hot again.
- Turn the heat off, and temper the eggs.
- Replace the vanilla extract with orange extract (or orange liqueur). Otherwise, proceed with the rest of the recipe as written.
- If desired, you can garnish the chilled pots de crème with a bit of orange zest or candied orange.
Chocolate Pots de Crème Pairings
- Pair with macerated fruit: Tart macerated fruit balances the slightly bitter, decadent chocolate flavor nicely.
- Serve with red wine: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Pinot Noir are all great pairings for this dessert.
- Enjoy with cookies: Dip crunchy cookies, like biscotti, into the creamy custard.
More Dreamy and Intense Chocolate Desserts
Chocolate Pots de Crème
1 1/2 cups (356ml) heavy cream
3/4 cup (177ml) whole milk
4 1/2 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate bars, chopped into small pieces
6 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons (75g) granulated white sugar
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 (4 ounce) ramekins
Set a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Heat the cream and milk:
In a large saucepan, heat cream and milk to a simmer over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk occasionally to prevent any milk at the bottom of the pan from burning.
Melt the chocolate:
Remove the saucepan from the heat. Place the chocolate pieces into a small bowl. Using a ladle, spoon 1/2 cup of the liquid into the bowl and stir in chocolate, constantly whisking until the chocolate fully melts.
Pour the chocolate liquid back into the saucepan, whisking frequently until the mixture is completely homogeneous. You don't want to see any small bits of chocolate here (otherwise, the custard may not set properly).
If you do see small bits floating in the liquid, set the pan back on low heat, whisking constantly to melt any remaining chocolate. Then, remove the saucepan from the heat.
Whisk the eggs:
In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar for about 1 minute until the mixture lightens in color from bright yellow to medium yellow and thickens slightly.
You're not looking for the ribbon stage, where the yolks lighten to a pale yellow; we're simply incorporating a little air into the yolks for a lighter custard.
Temper the eggs:
Using a ladle, spoon 1/2 cup of the hot chocolate milk into the yolk mixture. Whisk constantly, to prevent curdling, until the liquid is homogeneous. Spoon another 1/2 cup of the milk and whisk again until fully combined. Pour the milk-yolk mixture back into the saucepan, whisking to combine.
Stir in remaining ingredients:
Stir in the espresso powder (if using), kosher salt, and vanilla extract.
Strain the chocolate base
Then, strain the chocolate base by pouring it through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. This step helps get out any curdled egg yolk that will affect the texture of the custard.
Place 6 (4-ounce) ramekins in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Fill each ramekin about three-quarters of the way full (or up until the inner rim).
Prepare the water bath and cover with foil:
To prepare the hot water bath, use a hot water kettle or spouted measuring cup to fill the pan with hot tap water until it reaches two-thirds of the way up the sides.
Next, lay a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the pan, covering loosely on all sides. Use a fork to prick the foil in several places to help steam escape (avoid pricking holes directly on top of the ramekins).
Bake the pots de crème:
Open the oven and pull out the middle rack. Carefully transfer the pan to the oven, then slide it onto the rack. If you’re worried about spilling, you can also place the pan on the rack before adding water and covering with foil. Once on the rack, carefully pour in the water and loosely cover with aluminum foil, pricking a few holes.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the outsides of the custards are set and form a dark ring, but the middle is still a little jiggly.
Gently remove the pan from the oven. Using oven mitts, carefully remove each ramekin from the pan and place onto a wire cooling rack (if you need to, feel free to let the ramekins cool for about 10 minutes before taking them out of the pan).
Let cool at room temperature for about 1 hour, or until the ramekins are no longer warm to the touch. Then, wrap each custard in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours (but preferably overnight) before serving.
Serve and storage:
Just before serving, remove ramekins from the fridge. Dollop a spoonful of whipped cream onto each custard. Top with chocolate shavings and a sprinkle of flaky salt.
Cooked chocolate pots de crème keep in the refrigerator, covered, for 2 to 3 days.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 28g||36%|
|Saturated Fat 17g||84%|
|Total Carbohydrate 85g||31%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 79g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||2%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|