Spiced Chocolate Pots-de-Creme

I often supplement my cookbook buying habit by getting books from my local library. It’s also a good way to try out some recipes before outlaying a lot of hard earned money on a cook book that you only use once. I was lucky enough to discover that my local library had a copy of “The Paris Pastry Club” which had been on my ‘to buy’ list for a while. Written by Fanny Zanotti a Pastry Chef who has previously worked with Pierre Herme and Heston Blumenthal this book is full of delicious recipes that made it extremely hard to pick what to make first.

After much debate I settled on the ‘Spicy Chocolate Pots-de-Crème’, which turned out to be a fabulous introduction to this book. The recipe was simple to follow and produced a silky smooth chocolatey dessert.

Whether you like this dessert without adaptations will depend on your chilli tolerance levels. The recipe calls for one teaspoon of hot chilli powder, but I found this to be too strong. While I loved the spice flavour combination in this dessert I found the overwhelming chilli after burn in my throat spoilt this dessert for me. However, the chili lovers in our group loved the amount of chilli and gave this dessert a big thumbs up.

I’m looking forward to delving into this book further and trying some more of the delicious looking recipes.

Recipe

Recipe adapted from “Paris Pastry Club” by Fanny Zanotti.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 240gm pure cream
  • 100gm full cream milk
  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon of hot chilli powder (NB: adjust to your preference)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla pod, scraped
  • 4 egg yolks.
  • 20gm caster sugar
  • 100gm dark chocolate, finely chopped

Method

Preheat oven to 150°C.

Pour the cream, milk, star anise, cardamom pods, chilli, cinnamon and vanilla pod and seeds into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Once boiled remove from heat, cover with lid and allow the spices to infuse for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile whisk together the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl.

Boil a kettle of water.

Once the milk mixture has been infused pour into the egg and sugar mix using a sieve to strain out the larger spices.

Add the chocolate and mix until chocolate has melted.

Pour the mixture evenly into 4 ramekins.

Place the baking tray and pour the boiled water into the tray until it reaches halfway up the ramekin.

Bake for 25 minutes or until just set and slightly wobbly in the middle.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes. Place in fridge and chill for two hours or overnight.

Salted Pistachio Caramels

I have put away my oven gloves this week and handed the kitchen over to Mr LG. As can be expected the end result involves a lot of sugary goodness in the form of salted pistachios combined with a chewy caramel….. Karen

Whenever I am asked to write a blog for my lazy (oops I meant lovely) wife I always think of doing some form of confectionery as I simply can’t compete with her baking. So confectionery it is. Looking through a range of Karen’s cook books and foodie magazines I kept being drawn towards the pictures of rich looking caramels.

After much umming and ahing I decided to adapt a Donna Hay recipe for ‘Chewy Caramels with Salted Peanuts’. I was intending to take the caramels to work so I had to substitute the peanuts with pistachios as one of my work colleagues is allergic to peanuts (always good to know if you like your work colleagues, mind you it also good to know if you don’t like them …. if you catch my drift :)).

Now I have never made caramels before and according to Karen you must follow the temperature guidelines to the degree! In general, when working with sugar, the higher you take the temperature the harder the end product will be (i.e. soft, chewy or hard). For these caramels the recipe recommended a top temperature of 122°C (251°F) although other books suggest a range of 118-121°C (244-250°F) for chewy caramel. I did as this recipe suggested and the texture of the caramels was satisfyingly chewy.

One thing I learnt making these caramels is that if you ask your partner to add ingredients to the weekly shopping list you better be very clear. I asked for salted pistachios and I got salted pistachios. However, I should have asked for ‘hulled’ salted pistachios as this would have saved me quite some time hulling every single nut! Oh well, we live and learn.

If I make more confectionery I will definitely invest in a large quality thermometer as the one we have is quite small and it was hard to record the temperature without burning fingers.

I cut the caramels into 8cm (3″) lengths, but some people felt they were too big so I would recommend half this size.

Note: Be very careful working with sugar as you can burn very easily. Use a long metal spoon and a large pot as the mixture may rise quickly.

Recipe

Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 72.

Ingredients

Makes approx. 25 caramels (8cm/3″ lengths).

 

  • 210gm salted pistachio nuts
  • 550g white sugar
  • 600ml pouring cream
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 50g unsalted butter, chopped.

Grease an 8″square baking tin (20cm x 20cm ) and line with non-stick baking paper.

Place half your pistachio nuts into the baking tin.

Put the cream, golden syrup, sugar and butter into a large pot and turn the heat to high. Stir continuously with a long metal spoon until the sugar and butter have melted.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously for approx. 25 minutes. Using a thermometer check the temperature regularly and once it reaches 122°C (251°F) remove the pot from the stove.

Pour the caramel into your baking tin and then cover with the remaining pistachio nuts.

Cool your caramel at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until it is cool.

Place the caramel into the fridge for approx. 30 minutes until it is firm.

Once the caramel is firm, cut it into the required sizes.