Love that chocolate

Entertaining: There's no better time than Valentine's Day to forget the calories and just indulge.

January 31, 1999|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Ask me to name my favorite flavor in the world, and without even pausing, my response would be chocolate. Like countless others, I am a confirmed chocoholic.

Hardly a day passes that I don't indulge in some type of chocolate confection. My habit, however, brings with it guilt; while nibbling, I subconsciously remind myself of the calories and fat grams these morsels contain. At only one time of the year do I luxuriate in rich chocolate creations with no concern, and that, of course, is on Valentine's Day.

Every winter as this holiday approaches, I look forward to preparing a chocolate dessert for Feb. 14. My husband and I often eat out on this date, but I still like to have something chocolate waiting at home. This year, I updated a French chocolate classic.

I made traditional chocolate pots de creme, then topped them with white chocolate whipped cream. Not one but two explosions of chocolate flavoring make this dessert a chocoholic's dream.

These individual custards, a mixture of cream, semisweet chocolate, sugar and egg yolks, take only a few minutes to assemble and 25 minutes to bake. They can be cooked a day ahead and refrigerated, and the garnish -- a combination of whipped cream into which melted white chocolate is beaten -- also holds up well for a day when chilled.

The recipe yields eight small portions, but the pots de creme are so delectable, you or your guests might decide to have more than one.

Chocolate Pots de Creme with White Chocolate Whipped Cream

Serves 8

2 cups light cream or half and half

4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped coarsely

6 egg yolks

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup whipping cream

Place oven rack at center position. Have ready 8 ( 1/2 -cup size) ramekins, souffles or custard cups and place in large, shallow baking pan.

Place light cream in heavy saucepan along with chocolate. Place pan over low heat and whisk constantly until chocolate is dissolved and cream is scalded, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Set aside to cool 5 minutes.

Using electric mixer, beat egg yolks on medium speed until well combined. Gradually add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is slightly thickened and light in color, about 1 minute. Do not over-beat. Lower speed to low and slowly pour in reserved chocolate mixture and vanilla. Mix only long enough to incorporate.

Transfer mixture to top of double boiler set over simmering water and cook, stirring con-stantly, 2 minutes. Remove. Pour chocolate through strainer into prepared ramekins. Pour enough hot water into baking pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake at 325 degrees until set, about 25 minutes.

Remove ramekins to rack and cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until chilled. (Custards can be prepared 1 day ahead.)

For garnish, place white chocolate and 2 tablespoons whipping cream in top of double boiler set over simmering water. Whisk constantly until mixture is smooth and creamy. Remove top of double boiler and cool mixture 10 minutes. Whip remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream with electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Lower speed and pour in cooled white chocolate mixture. Continue to beat until stiff peaks form. (Whipped cream can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

To serve, garnish each custard with generous dollop of white chocolate whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

Note: If you do not have a double boiler, you can improvise by placing heat-proof bowl over simmering water in saucepan. Bowl should not touch water.

Pub Date: 01/31/99

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