I remember the first time I tasted the chocolate-chili combination. It was an explosive blend of flavors to say the least. My favorite chocolate manufacturer's were presenting their new chocolate line and I was lucky enough to get tickets to the show. This was a few years back. I instantly fell in love with their chocolate-chile-almond chocolate bar. Rich 70% bittersweet chocolate with spicy cayenne pepper all wrapped around whole almonds. I had no trouble eating the whole 200g bar by myself.
I am sure you know how that works. You open a new bar, slowly. First ripping the chic outer wrapper, revealing the elegant golden foil. Then you break off just a small corner - crack! You go to the sofa and savor the flavor melting in your mouth. A few minutes later you are back in the chocolate cabinet nibbling on another piece of that heavenly chocolate. And before you know it you've literally pigged out on the whole bar in one evening!
Guilty? Not me. You?
Surprisingly, it never actually occurred to me to experiment with the explosive combination in my own kitchen! DUH! However, I am the type of person who makes up for missed time by spending hours pondering and researching. I get so obsessed that I even start dreaming about it.
For those of you who have not tried the chocolate and chili blend, let me tell you it is not a new trend. Think of the Mexican Mole Poblano, created by nuns in the 17th century. The smooth, dark, richness of the chocolate, spiced with a hint of fiery chili is something so wonderfully satisfying.
So, when I was left with several egg yolks from the last Daring Bakers challenge, I knew instantly what I was going to be doing with them. I did not have to look far. I found the perfect recipe for creamy, chocolaty desserts in Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours. Dorie can do no wrong and so my decision fell on her exquisite Chocolate Pots de Crème.
Pots de crème are not to be compared to chocolate pudding. Because while the pudding is stirred on the stovetop to thicken the cornstarch, pots de crème are cooked in a water bath in the oven and get their creamy texture from the eggs and slow baking. Pots de crème are richer and, in my opinion, more comforting.
I used Dorie's recipe as a basis and adapted it to incorporate the chili flavors of the New Mexico chiles and Kashmiri chili powder. The result is a smooth, chocolaty cream with some real fire. Adding tart and fruity raspberries as a side completes the dessert by taking it to a whole new level.
The Monthly Mingle is out on the red carpet this month. I am taking you into the colorful world of Bollywood. This time one glamorous superstar dish will walk away with a copy of the fantastic Bollywood Cookbook
You'll find all the details here.
Deadline: 5 May 2008
Printable version of recipe here.
4 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed, cut lengthwise into 4 strips, rinsed
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder
Pinch of salt
Handful of fresh raspberries
Handful of grated coconut
Preparation: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a roasting pan large enough to fit all the forms in, with a double thickness of paper towels. Put eight custard or ramekin forms into the pan. Fill the teakettle with water and bring to boil then turn off the heat.
Put the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Bring 1/2 cup of cream to a boil, then add the New Mexico chiles. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to steep for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, then return to the saucepan and gently bring to a boil. When the cream is just at a boil pour over the chocolate and wait for 1 minute. Using a rubber spatula, very gently stir the cream and chocolate. Start stirring at the center, widening the concentric circles until the ganache is smooth. Set aside.
Mix the remaining cream and milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg, egg yolks, Kashmiri chili powder, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. Keep whisking until the mixture turns pale and thickens. Still whisking drizzle in spoonfuls of the hot liquid to temper the eggs. This will warm the eggs gently so that they do not curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remaining liquid.
Finally, slowly whisk the egg mixture into the ganache, stirring gently to incorporate.
Skim the foam off the top of the custard with a spoon, then pour the custard into the prepared cups or forms.
Pour enough hot water from the teakettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the top of the pan snugly with aluminum foil, poke two holes in opposite corners and carefully slide the pan into the pan.
Bake the custards for 30-40 minutes, or until the tops darken and the custards jiggle a little in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and place on the cooling rack. Allow the custards to rest in their warm bath for 10 minutes, then peel off the foil. Transfer the individual forms from the water to the cooling rack. Once they reach room temperature, refrigerate until cooled through, preferably overnight.
Sprinkle the tops of the custards with some grated coconut and decorate with fresh raspberries.
While the New Mexico chiles add an earthy fiery flavoring, the Kashmiri chili powder lends it mild and fruity aromas to the dessert. It's just a hint one tastes of the chili. First the smooth, rich chocolate creaminess blew us away, then we tasted the slight pungency of the chili. What an incredible experience! The raspberries complemented the flavors perfectly, rounding the dessert with their tart and fruity goodness.
You might enjoy these chocolate desserts to:
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