Monday, June 21, 2010

"How to Read a French Fry" and Pots de Creme

I know I'm a little late in reading How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons since this book came out in 2001. But when I found it at a garage sale I figured it was a deal I couldn't pass up.

Subtitled "and Other Stories of Intriguing Kitchen Science" this book is part of that genre that explains the science of how something works in the kitchen and then follows with recipes that use the scientific principles that were just explained.

I have other books of this type, but there's always something new. Or something that's explained better. Or something that I need to be reminded of.

And of course, there are the recipes.

What I found interesting was that there were three different pastry crust recipes. One was for a flaky crust, one was a shortcrust, and one was called a rustic tart crust. I've bookmarked that one to try later, but first I had to have some chocolate.

This recipe was from the book's section on eggs, and demonstrates how eggs set softly to become a custard.


Chocolate Pots de Creme
Adapted from How to Read a French Fry by Russ Parsons
Parsons' recipe was adapted from Classic Home Desserts by Richard Sax

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Combine chocolate, milk, and cream in a small pot and heat to just below the boiling point, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, lightly beat the eggs, egg yolks and sugar in a small bowl, just to combine. It should not get light or frothy.

When the milk mixture has heated to just below boiling, take it off the heat and whisk it to make sure it's smooth, then dribble about 1/4 cup of the hot mixuture into the eggs while whisking the egg mixture. Keep adding the hot mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly.

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a measuring cup for easy pouring, then divide the mixture equally into eight 1/2-cup ramekins. Put the ramekins into a baking pan, place the pan in the oven, and fill the pan with very hot water to about half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Cover the pan with foil and bake until the edges of the custard are set but the center still jiggles when shaken, about 30 minutes.

Remove the ramekins from the pan and let cool. Then cover with plastic and refrigerate until chilled. Top with whipped cream for serving, if desired.

Or, top with a lot of whipped cream, if that's what you want.

1 comment:

Michele Hays said...

Oooh! I haven't written it up yet, but the "I Hate to Cook Book" has a terrific version of this - essentially, you scald the cream, put the other ingredients (I think there are marginal differences to your recipe; for instance, she uses half-and-half instead of cream and milk) in the blender, dump the near-boiling cream over, blend until the chocolate melts, pour into ramekins and chill. It's my very favorite emergency dessert.

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