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NET RECIPES

Easy, No-Bake Chocolate Pots de Creme
This recipe is based on a concept from America's Test Kitchen. The core concept that they pioneered is doing away with the need for the annoyingly complicated bain marie style baked water bath for cooking the egg/custard component in pots de creme by basically replacing it with a creme anglaise.

The trick that allows you to get away with this is that the crystallization of chocolate as it cools replaces any custard-setting quality or benefit that you receive as a result of careful water-bath baking. You couldn't do a creme brulee with this method, but as long as you've got the solidifying power of chocolate crystals, there's no need to kill yourself with complicated oven maneveurs - just get that egg cooked and you're golden. This recipe lends itself to several flavor variation, each with a few required recipe modifications.

The other trick on making a relatively-quick creme anglaise is to start over higher (medium to medium-low) heat, but to reduce the flame when the liquid changes consistency from cream-like to paint-like, and to continue heating (to approx. 170 degrees F) over low heat, stirring all the time. To fully cook the eggs and make the richest/thickest creme anglaise possible, you want to thicken the creme anglaise custard mixture as much as possible, without letting any egg curds form at all. If you do get a curd or two that begins forming (in the liquid - on the sides of the pan doesn't count), then quickly remove from the heat, place on a conductive material - like a metal sink rim and quickly keep stirring. After 15 seconds of stabilizing the temperature, pour over the chopped chocolate, and through a medium to fine mesh sieve to catch any stray egg curds (there really should not be any if you've watched your custard carefully, but may be some from scraping down the sides of the pan).

Makes 8 small but rich servings (use 5oz. ramekins or demitasse cups)
Note: I made this for a party in 3 oz. paper Dixie cups to take with plastic spoons, and that was OK, but the paper cup gets just a little softened and you want something with a little more structure. 3 oz. is the perfect party size, so maybe look for 3 or 4 oz. plastic "souffle" cups at a party supply store? 5 oz. plastic wine cups are OK for larger, full servings, but too large for party size.

Creme Anglaise:
5 egg yolks

5 Tbsp granulated white sugar

1/4 tsp table salt
then
1 3/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c half and half

Chocolate and Flavorings :
10.5 oz. 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate (or for richer flavor, use 7 oz 60% plus 3.5 oz 70-72 % dark chocolate), chopped (see below for tip)
then...
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp flavoring - by default use 1/2 tsp coffee/espresso powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp water, or see variations below

Whisk together egg yolks, sugar and salt in a heavy bottom sauce pan. When thoroughly combined and egg yolks begin to turn pale color (after 30 seconds of whisking), slowly whisk in cream and half an half. Place over medium to medium-low heat, whisking nearly constantly, until temperature reaches about 150 F, or until viscosity of creme anglaise mixture changes from cream-like to paint-like. At that point, reduce heat to low and continue stirring, with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula (NOT a whisk any longer!) until mixture reaches about 175 F, or until it is just about to begin to form curds. Mixture will thickly coat the back of a spoon, or you will be able to drag your finger through your mising rubber or silicone spatula, leaving a trail that does not close in behind your finger; or if you dip your finger into the hot creme, it will thickly (not thinly) coat your finger.

See above for additional tips on identifying the maximum thickening point of the creme anglaise without risking curd formation, which will cause all your creme anglaise to taste like an omellette, not a dessert. Remove from heat, still stirring, and pour, through a sieve to catch any lumps, directly on top of chopped chocolate, preferably in a small to medium bowl with a pour spout. Stir mixture with spoon/spatula only about 3 times then let sit about five minutes to allow chocolate to fully melt and to allow creme anglaise to cool. After those five minutes, add flavoring of your choice and whisk slowly to completely blend. Mixture should be extremely thick but still pourable. If it is too thick, and looks like it might set up to hard, you may wish to add a little additional flavoring liquid or a bit more cream (either half and half or heavy cream).

Pour into individual serving containers, remembering that this is very rich and that you'll only need very small portions. Allow containers and mixture to fully cool to room temperature (this way no condensation will form when you refridgerate). Cover all containers on a tray with plastic wrap (so that a skin will not form on top from air passing over) and refridgerate at least 3 hours and up to 3 days. Remove from fridge 20 minutes before serving. Optionally garnish with a small dollop of whipped cream and shaved chocolate. Break out the small silver spoons for this!

Flavoring Options
You can use the traditional 1 T vanilla + 1 T coffee powder mixture for mocha pots de creme, or experiment with any of these options:

- 2 T orange liqeur or extract plus 1 t Microplane (rasp grater) grated orange zest
- 1 T vanilla + 1 T heavy cream + 1 t ground cardamom
- Replace chocolate with 2 discs (3.1 oz/180 g) Mexican chocolate with canela (like Ibarra) + 4 oz. 60% bittersweet chocolate + 3.5 oz. 70% dark chocolate; for Flavorings, use 1 T vanilla + 1 T heavy cream + 1/4 t ground cinnamon + 1 t ground red chile (or even better a scant 1/2 t ground chipotle powder! - or 2 t ground Chimayo chile powder)
- 2+ T Chambord or Creme de Cassis or your favorite liquor

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Dinner Menus by Sam and Kristin

NET RECIPES

Appetizers
Fantastic NET Caesar Salad
Orange-Ginger Shrimp Ceviche
Salt Cod Brandade (Baccala/Bacalao)

Main Dishes
KD's Famous Chipotle Pork Posole Stew
Dover Sole (or Tilapia) "Meuniere"
Tenderloin Filet Au Poivre
Easy Summer Grilled Pizza
Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino con Gamberoni, Zest and Body!

Soup & Sides
Famous NET MAN Steamed Broccoli
Perfect & Easy Tuscan White Bean Soup
Bacon Mustard Brussel Sprouts
Creamy Polenta
Crunchy Vegetarian Quinoa Tabouli

Drinks
Limoncello
Dark and Stormy cocktail
Homemade Santa Fe Hot Cocoa Mix now with the power of chipotle
Dark Rum Egg Nog

Desserts
Apple Scone Cobbler
Nina's Birthday Cardamom Peach Cobbler
Italian Semifreddo Cassata
Rich & Dark Pecan Pie
Easy No-Bake Chocolate Pots de Creme

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