By Riki Shore
As I mentioned last week, we celebrated a milestone birthday recently. One of the benefits of having a wife with a culinary degree is that Rob can dream up whatever dessert strikes his fancy and I’ll make it for him.
After a lot of discussion and perusing of cookbooks, he decided on chocolate-star anise pots de creme.
Now, where in world did he come up with that? Did I have a recipe for it and just didn’t realize it?
Actually, he was inspired by a recipe for star anise pots de creme in a Jean-Georges Vongerichten cookboook and one for chocolate pots de creme in a French cookbook called Simplement Bistrot by Yves Camdeborde.
I decided to infuse the cream with star anise, then strain it out before adding the eggs and chocolate. This is so easy to make and it’s definitely sophisticated enough for a special occasion.
We topped the pots de creme with unsweetened whipped cream and candied fennel seeds, which I bought at an Indian grocer. It’d be equally good with dark chocolate shavings on top.
A word about sugary desserts…we try to avoid sugar most days of the year. We use very little sugar added to dishes; we avoid processed foods containing sweeteners; we opt for veggies instead of fruit and shun fruit juices altogether.
But on three days a year – each of our birthdays – we indulge. It makes us feel like we’re celebrating without overdoing it. I believe that relaxing with family and enjoying the special days life has to offer is as healthy for us as avoiding sugar on all the other days. So go ahead and enjoy this one – just don’t make it a regular habit.
8 oz heavy whipping cream
2 oz whole milk
2 tablespoons star anise
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
3.5 oz dark chocolate (70% or higher), broken into chunks
1. Combine the cream, milk and star anise in a saucepot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot and allow the mixture to steep for 30 minutes.
2. Strain the cream mixture from step 1 and return the liquid to the same pot.
3. Return the heat to medium and add the sugar and egg yolks to the pot. While whisking, bring the mixture to 180 degrees. If you don’t have a thermometer, this step will take about 5 minutes. The mixture is done when it’s just thick enough to coat the back of your silicone spatula.
4. Take the pot off the heat and add the chocolate chunks. Using a clean utensil, whisk to incorporate the chocolate.
5. Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, then portion into four small ramekins.
6. Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and chill. The pots de creme will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days. Top with whipped cream and candied fennel just before serving.