reinventing a chocolate bar as dessert?

reinventing a chocolate bar as dessert?

We are big fans of John & Kiras Chocolates. About two years ago, I gushed about one of their offerings, the Urban Garden Bar, a delicious combination of orange peel, rosemary and chocolate.

Fast forward to my recent efforts to deconstruct favorite menu items (e.g. The Counter’s horseradish mayo). Could I replicate the flavor of the Urban Garden bar as a creamy chocolate dessert? It seemed simple enough but I worried about the orange or rosemary overpowering the chocolate flavor. I needed something that had enough richness to support the oils from both the rosemary stalk and the orange peel. My answer? Balthazar Restaurant’s decadent chocolate pot de creme.

This time of year, I reach for The Balthazar Cookbook on a regular basis. The pot de creme is a classic; a perfect end to meals featuring slow-cooked roasts or stews and hearty winter vegetables. It can be savored with the last few sips of wine from dinner or paired with a strong espresso. And the best part? It’s really easy to make!

It took me a few tries to get it right. The first time, I used the wrong pan and water that was too cold. The flavor was spot on but it was closer to a chocolate milkshake than a silky custard. The second time, I used our Le Creuset braiser and it worked really well maintaining a consistent temperature. The third time, I did it the same way just to make sure I got the same result.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, here’s my version:

Orange-Rosemary-Chocolate Pot de Creme
(adapted from The Balthazar Cookbook)

1.5 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
8 ounces Valrhona or Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
6 large egg yolks
zest of a small orange
1 6-inch stalk of rosemary, lightly bruised with a hammer

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla, orange zest and rosemary. Whisk to combine and bring to a boil over medium flame. Add the chopped chocolate and whisk until all chocolate is melted. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks. Remove rosemary stalk from chocolate mixture, then pour in a slow, steady stream into egg yolks (making sure to temper them first). Whisk until smooth.

Divide the mixture among 6 ramekins (6 ounce size) and place them in a large casserole or high-sided baking dish. Pour cold water into the dish, coming halfway up the sides of the ramekins (bain-marie). Cover tightly with foil and bake on the center rack for one hour and 15 minutes. Check for doneness – custards should jiggle slightly in the center. If too soupy, continue to cook for 5 minutes at a time.

Let cool to room temperature then refrigerate. Serve cool.