Chocolate Ginger Pot de Creme


For a dinner party with friends, I wanted to make an elegant, but simple dessert to pair with cookies.   The pot de crème recipe I chose is from the Scharffen Berger book, Essence of Chocolate.  I used a mixture of chocolates that were not Scharffen Berger, there was some Trader Joe’s and a bit of Ghirardelli.   The recipe is specific with the percentages of chocolates it requires but I think any combination will work, it just depends on the chocolatelyness of the finished product.

One trick I recently learned is to peel the ginger with the edge of a teaspoon, this work much better than a peeler.

These were delicious.  The ginger flavor added something extra and gave them nice depth.  I skipped the whipped cream and did a simple decoration of red, white, and green holiday sprinkles.  I couldn’t really pop all the bubbles on top of them, so some have a “foamy” top while others have a smooth, glass-like finish depending on whether they were poured early with the foam part of the custard or later.  This had no impact on taste.  The recipe suggests a propane torch for breaking the bubbles, but since I don’t have one, I had to skip this step.

Chocolate Ginger Pots de Creme

adapted from Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg

Ingredients

1/3 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger (about a 3-inch piece)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks

Instructions

Place the ginger in a small saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 2 minutes. Drain.

In a large saucepan, bring the cream, milk, ginger, and sugar to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. (Keep a close watch on the pan; the cream can bubble up and over very quickly. Really.) Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 2 hours to infuse the cream with the flavor of the ginger.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Arrange eight 5 to 6 ounce ramekins in a large baking pan or roasting pan, making sure the ramekins don’t touch each other or the edges of the plan.

Place both chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl and set over a pot of a gently simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. Or place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second increment until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Set a fine-mesh strainer over the top of the chocolate bowl. Reheat the milk and cream mixture over medium-high heat until it bubbles around the edges. Strain one-quarter of the hot milk and cream mixture onto the chocolate. Remove the strainer and whisk to combine. Return the strainer to the bowl, and add the the remaining milk and cream mixture. Whisk to combine. Discard the ginger.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly add the chocolate mixture until well combined. Set a strainer over a large measuring cup or a bowl with a spout and pour the mixture through the strainer to remove any curdled egg bits.

Divide the custard among the ramekins, and wipe the rims clean. Break up any bubbles that have settled on the surface with a skewer or with a quick pass of a propane torch, otherwise the surfaces may not be smooth.

Pour enough very hot water into the pan to come 1 inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges of the custards are firm but the very centers are not completely set. Carefully remove from the oven, and let the ramekins remain in the water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove the ramekins and cool for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for at least several hours or up to 3 days. Serve cold or at room temperature. If desired, top each with a dollop of whipped cream.

Peppermint Chocolate Macarons

Peppermint Chocolate Macarons
Peppermint is a flavor I associate with the holiday season, primarily because of candy canes.  And of course I always want chocolate.  I typically consume these two flavors in a Peppermint Patty or Junior Mint or in the cookie form of Thin Mints.  But when I decided make Macarons (Macaroons) this year, I thought peppermint and chocolate, perfect for the season.

I’ve made other macaron versions previously, including Dulce de Leche Macarons, Chocolate Macarons, and some anise ones I didn’t blog about.  These were all good, but I never felt they were up to some of my local favorites, such as the ones purchase at Miette or Patisserie Philippe.  Though any of my previous attempts were loads better than the horrible ones I found at the Whole Foods in Noe Valley (they were disgusting, stale things that crumbled at first bite and had a weird tasting filling).

I went looking for a Peppermint Macaron recipe, hoping to find a flavored shell.  I found one from Dessert First that had peppermint in the chocolate ganache filling and Tartelette had a candy cane macaron with crushed candy cane pieces on the edges of the filling.  There were a few other sites with pictures but overall few recipes with these flavors.  I also felt strongly that I wanted the peppermint flavoring in the shell, not in the filling.  I’m a little nervous with peppermint because it can be a strong flavor and overwhelm other flavors and I knew I had to keep it on the mild side.

I recently purchased a short, but extremely cute book by Hisako Ogita that was recently translated from Japanese. The pictures looked helpful and there were several unusual flavor combinations that I will try at a future time.  These macarons were the best ones that I have ever made. They had feet!  The texture was chewy but the shell was a little crispy.  I <heart> these macarons that I made.

This recipe had a few differences from my previous attempts.

1.  I used the metric weights for all measurements.  I think this helped me be more accurate
2. The “macaronnage” where after the almond flour is added the mixture is mixed several times.  This really changed the texture and made the batter a bit stiffer
3. I used a smaller tip (804 vs. the previous 808 or 809).  This helped me pipe smaller circles, which considerably added to the cuteness.

These were fabulous.  The peppermint was just the right amount and the chocolate ganache complemented the peppermint.  I highly recommend the  book for the pictures and additional instructions.

Peppermint Macaron Shells

adapted from I Love Macarons or I ♥ Macarons as the cover shows
(with the extensive instructions shortened for space – the book describes this best)

2/3 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) ground almonds
1 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces or 150 grams) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tbl (65 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

1. In a food processor, grind the almonds and the powdered sugar together to a fine powder.

2. In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, beat eggs whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites.

3. Add the peppermint to the egg whites

4. When the meringue is stiff, firm and has a glossy texture, it is done.

5. Add the flour/powdered sugar mixture. Stir it with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl.

6. Macaronnage. When you run out of flour, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it updside down. Repeat this process about 15 times.

7. Attach a 0.4 inch (1.01 cm) or 804 tip to the pastry bag. Pour the batter into the pastry bag.

8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Squeeze out the batter onto the center of the circles.  Make small circles since the batter tends to spread out after being squeezed.

9. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter or other flat surface.

10. Dry the batter at room temperature uncovered for 15 minutes.  A slight crust should form on top.

11. Stack the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet

12. Bake at 375 F for 15 to 18 minutes and slightly crisp on top.

13. Allow to cool on the tray and then remove.

Chocolate Ganache

adapted from I Love Macarons or I ♥ Macarons as the cover shows

3/5 cup / 3.4 oz / 100 milliliters heavy cream
3.5 oz / 100 grams chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

1. Put the whipping cream in a pot and bring it to a boil

2. Put the chocolate in a bowl and add the cream

3. Mix it with a whisk until it becomes glossy

4. Cool to room temperature. Or put the bowl in a larger bowl with ice water and whisk rapidly to have it cool more quickly.

Peppermint Chocolate Macaron Assembly

Since I never make the shells the exact same size, I first pair up the shells to get matched sets.  With an offset spatula apply some ganache to one shell and spread evenly.  Add the matching shell.

These are best when they are fresh.