Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme (Page 832)


  • Date: Sunday, November 23, 2008 -- 8pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Fellow Chef: Matty
  • Dining Companions: Paul K, Lauren K, Beth, Norm, Kelly, and Scott B
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I chose this recipe because, well, it sounded amazing. What's not to love about little cups of creamy, chocolate-espresso goodness? Indeed, these pots de creme were very tasty -- and very fast to make! A winning combination. I started by melting chopped chocolate in a hot mixture of cream, milk, and instant espresso powder. In a separate bowl I whisked together egg yolks and sugar, then added the chocolate mixture to it. I poured this mixture into ramekins set in a water bath in a baking pan, then covered the pan tightly with foil. I baked the pots de creme in the oven until they were set around the edges, then refrigerated until cold. I garnished them with a bit of shaved chocolate before serving. The result: yum! The texture was divine and the flavor was rich and chocolatey with just a hint of espresso. I did make one serious mistake which negatively affected the outcome of the recipe. The recipe called for these to be made in pot de creme cups or 4-5 oz ramekins. I have a ton of ramekins (just ask my special gentleman sometime about me and my ramekins -- it's hilarious to watch him get all riled up about how long he spent packing ramekins the last time I moved!). Mysteriously though I don't have a lot of small ramekins. I have 4 4-oz ramekins that my brother gave me years ago (like the one you see above), and then a couple 6 oz ramekins which I had lent out when I made this recipe. After that I only have 8 oz or bigger ramekins. So I made 4 of these in the 4 oz ramekins, and baked the other 4 in creme brulee dishes (which are approximately 4 oz). This meant I had to do two separate pans (since the water baths needed to be different heights) and I foolishly didn't consider how much faster the ones in the creme brulee dishes would set (since they were so shallow). So I accidentally over baked that batch. The flavor was still awesome, but the texture was not smooth and creamy like the 4-oz ramekin batch. The lesson: watch these carefully and don't over bake! Mmmm.... I could go for one of these right now. Too bad they are long gone!

Here is the recipe.

The good thing about Thanksgiving break is that it provides a much needed rest late in the semester. The bad thing about Thanksgiving break is that it is so hard to get back in the swing of things after it. I love teaching, but this week has really been a struggle so far. Thirty minutes into my second class this afternoon I just completely lost my train of thought. Mid-sentence I just stopped, and stared at the board. Five second later I remembered what I was saying and went on, but in that interstitial few seconds I just stood there thinking, "I'm about ready for this semester to be over." To add to my confused state, my two classes (business calculus and regular calculus) which are usually doing very different material, are doing very, very similar material this week. But it is introduced differently in each class, and the two sets of classes are expected to have different sets of skills. For example, in business calculus we don't teach the derivatives (or the integrals) of any trigonometric functions (isn't that odd?) whereas in regular calculus we use trig functions in every other example. So I often pause before I say something and think, "Where am I and which terminology do I use in this class? Is it a 'right-hand sum' or a 'right-endpoint approximation?'" This confusion, I think, adds to my exhaustion! My students are also exhausted it seems, and anxious about their rapidly approaching final exams. I got a half dozen panicked emails today about grades, "What do I need on the final to pass the class?" or "Is it still possible for me to get an A in the course?" Finals are indeed lurking just around the corner (next week is the last week of classes) and I am glad that my students are thinking about it already. Hopefully in addition to emailing me their concerns they are also studying!!! I, for one, am looking forward to finals week. It is usually a relatively relaxing week of the semester. And then, Christmas break!


Karen said...

The pots de creme look so delicious, but you lost me at 'calculus'. LOL

Teena said...

Well luckily you don't need to understand the calculus to make the pots de creme! And they were very tasty!

Anonymous said...

why aren't the derivatives of trig functions taught in business calculus? Is the knowledge simply extraneous? Or business students are assumed to be incapable of handling trig functions?!
Or a priori trig functions never show up in business-related calculus? (I guess that's the same as the first question)
Sounds funny.
I'm not criticizing you, by the way. I am just amused.

Teena said...

I don't know. The textbook we use consolidates everything about trig functions so that those sections can be skipped, and it is my understanding that apparently many place do skip them in business calculus. I think it is just a time-saving measure. We cover differentiation, integration, and about a million applications, so the semester is already jam-packed. Adding trig functions without cutting anything else would make it impossible to fit in one semester. That said, I think the calculus of trig function is more important than some of the stuff we do cover, so if I were writing the syllabus I might do it differently. However the syllabus is departmental for this course, so I just teach what I am told to!