Save this dessert for a fancy sit-down meal (or maybe just Tuesday) these rich little dark chocolate pots de creme are deceivingly light after a big meal. This no-bake dessert recipe is super simple and easy to whip up, and best served in individual dessert cups. The hardest part of this recipe wating while they chill completely before serving. This fudgy dessert is gluten-free and made with heavy cream, eggs yolks, the best quality dark chocolate and a touch of espresso to deepen the dark chocolate flavours.
What is "pot de creme"?
Pot de creme is a french dessert custard, which literally means "pot of cream" - (my high school french is paying off at this vey moment!). It is made from heavy cream, whole milk and egg yolks. Unlike pudding, which is usually thickened with some sort of starch, pot de creme relies on the heavy cream and the egg yolks to set into a custard. And unlike mousse, the cream is not whipped. Here, in this chocolate pots de creme recipe, heat is used to set the egg and cream into a sikly smooth, and very rich, dessert custard.
Pots de creme are more decandant than pudding, denser than mousse. Trust me, your guests will say 'OMG' with the first spoonful.
"It's like fudge that you eat with a spoon"
My pot de creme recipe uses the darkest chocolate I can get my hands on and a touch of espresso powder (instant espresso) to highlight the bitterness of the dark chocolate. You can use instant coffee if you have that instead.
How to serve pot de creme
Small single servings is the key to this rich dessert.
Admittedly this is not the healthiest dessert I have ever shared with you, but the serving size is small and keeps the calories in check. This recipe, which uses just 3 oz of good quality dark chocolate, I typically divide into 4 or 6 servings.
For serving, I like my grandma's little custard cups (in the pictures), but old-timey tiny tea cups work too. Each serving is small - just over ¼ to ⅓ cup. That's it! This is an incredibly rich dessert - the mood is "just a taste of something sweet after dinner." Tall shooter glasses or espresso cups are perfect.
For serving one try one of these garnishes:
- A dollop of unsweetened whipped cream. The coolness and lightness of whipped cream is lovely with the bitter chocolate.
- A sprinkle of crystalized cane sugar - for its caramelly colour and a bit of crunch.
- A sprinkle of good flaked sea salt -- the salty-ness is amazing with the dark chocolate
- With a few chocolate-covered espresso or coffee beans
If serving a crowd:
This recipe is easily scalable. The below recipe is written for 4-6 servings. Double or triple to serve a crowd.
For a dessert table, you can go even smaller with the servings for pots de creme. I love these inexpensive shooter glasses for this. In these little cups, a serving will be about half, a couple of tablespoons, just a few bites.
If you are looking for a vegan alternative -- I got you! --- check out this Chocolate Mint Pudding or this easy Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe. You might even want to try this fudgy no-bake Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter pie
Why this recipe works
Many pot de creme recipes will require you to bake the custard cups in a low oven, in a water bath so that they set up properly. This easy no-bake pot de creme recipe does not need a waterbath.
These chocolate pots de creme are no -bake. In this recipe, we bring the sugar, egg yolks and cream to a simmer over medium low heat until it reaches 175 degrees. The mixture will thicken as it comes ot temperature. At 175 degrees the egg yolks are cooked and the cream thickened enough so that the custard will completely set once it is cooled.
It is all done on a stove top!
When you take the mixture off the heat immediately pour it over the chopped dark chocolate and espresso powder. The heat of the cream will melt the chocolate. Just give it a minute or two to completely melt. Then stir with a rubber spatual until completely smooth.
Cream and milk
This recipe also uses a combination of whipping cream and whole milk. I think the milk gives a silkier texture, personally. I have not tried to make this recipe non-dairy. Sorry -- this is a dairy based dessert. Nor is this a low-fat dessert.
For the cream and milk you must to use whipping cream and whole milk. Please,don't try to use 18% instead of whipping cream and don't try to use skim instead of whole. You need the fat content so the creme holds.
Chill (or a couple of days ahead of time!)
The mixture gets noticably thicker as it cools. Eventually it will be almost fudgy, spoonable but fudgey.
Pour the warm chocolate custard into serving dishes - ramakins, custard cups or shot glasses - and allow it to cool completely.
The pots de creme will need about 4 hours in the refrigerator before serving. But you can make these as much as 3 days in advance.
Use the best that you can find. Don't use chocolate chips.
For dark chocolate, I personally like 85% cocoa, but I understand if that is too much for you. Make sure you select a chocolate that you enjoy eating just as it is. Straight up.. because basically your pots de creme will taste just like it.
Don't use chocolate chips, I find they don't melt as smooth as a good bar of chocolate. Bakers chocolate will do. I usually reach for Lindt. 70% or 85% dark chocolate. It's an easy to find brand, available at most stores. One bar will be enough for this recipe.
Yes you can! Try something else, milk chocolate, semi-sweet or white chocolate.
Yes! This pot de creme recipe is perfect for prepping ahead of time! And actually it needs to chill at least 4 hours before serving. Chocolate pots de creme can be made up to three days ahead of time. Just save the garnishes for just before serving.
I love making these a day or two before a dinner party so that I know dessert is taken care of least ready to go ahead of time and I can focus on other things.
No, not really. This recipe calls for both whipping cream and whole milk. There is no substitute for the whipping cream.
I've used light 5% cream instead of whole milk in a pinch and had very good results. But I would not go with 2% or lighter milk. I also would not try any non-dairy ingredients.
Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme with Espresso
- 4 ramekins for serving, or use espresso cups, pudding cups or shot glasses
- 3 oz good quality dark chocolate use 70% cocoa or more in this recipe
- 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- ½ cup whipping cream
- ⅓ cup whole milk
- pinch sea salt
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder optional
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- whipped cream unsweetened
- chocolate covered coffee beans
- Chop the dark chocolate into shards and place in a medium heat-proof bowl. The bowl should be deep enough that you can place a fine mesh seive over it. Set this aside.3 oz good quality dark chocolate
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk the sugar and egg yolks until very pale. You can do this in a stand mixer if you have one. Add the heavy cream, whole milk and salt and stir to combine.2 tablespoon granulated sugar, 2 egg yolks, ½ cup whipping cream, ⅓ cup whole milk, pinch sea salt
- Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stiring constantly until the mixture thickens. You want the mixture to reach a temperature of 175 degrees. Use an instant read thermometer to test if necessary. This will take about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the vanilla. s½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- With the fine mesh sieve over the chocolate, pour the custard over the chocolate. Let is sit for a few minutes. This will melt the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Do not whip.½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- Pour the chocoalte into the ramekins. Divide evenly amount the serving dishes you have chosen. Let stand at room temperature until cooled, then tranfer to the refrigerator until fully chilled, at least 4 hours.
- Chocolate pots can be made up to 3 days in advance of serving.