Culinary SOS: Carpe Diem's Mexican chocolate pot de crème

Los Angeles Times

Dear SOS: My husband and I recently visited downtown Napa, Calif. The amazing chocolate dessert at Carpe Diem is absolutely the best chocolate dessert I've ever tasted! And I am not a big dessert person. Satin-smooth chocolate with a texture between a pudding and souffle, but better. Not too sweet and topped with a small drop of whipped cream and then sprinkled with perfectly roasted and salted pepitas [pumpkin seeds]. Divine.

Shirley Burke

Los Angeles

Dear Shirley: This dessert is a chocolate lover's dream come true. Carpe Diem was happy to share its recipe for this wonderfully rich pot de crème, which makes four to six normal servings (or two generous servings for a pair of serious chocolate lovers). Enjoy!

Mexican chocolate pot de crème

Total time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time for the pots de crème

Servings: 4 to 6

Pot de crème

1 1/2 cups whole milk

1/2 cup heavy cream

6 egg yolks

6 ounces Mexican chocolate (preferably Abuelita), finely chopped

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the milk and cream and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, beat the egg yolks to combine. Slowly whisk about one-fourth cup of the milk mixture into the eggs to temper them, then transfer the eggs to the saucepan, whisking to combine.

3. Cook the custard, stirring frequently, until it is slightly thickened. Immediately add the chopped Mexican and bittersweet chocolates to the pan. Remove the pan from heat. Stir until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the custard.

4. Strain the mixture into a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Ladle the chocolate into small bowls. Refrigerate the custards until set and chilled, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.

Candied pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

1 tablespoon sugar

In a medium, nonstick pan, combine the pumpkin seeds and sugar over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a heat-resistant spatula, until the sugar is melted and coats the pumpkin seeds. Remove from heat and spread the seeds on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet so the seeds do not stick together as they cool.

Whipped cream and assembly

1 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons sugar

Pots de crème

Candied pumpkin seeds

Maldon salt or another coarse sea salt

1. In a large bowl using a whisk or hand mixer, beat together the cream with the vanilla extract and sugar to form stiff peaks.

2. Serve the pots de crème with a dollop of whipped cream, a sprinkling of candied pumpkin seeds and a pinch of salt.

Each of 6 servings: 652 calories; 12 grams protein; 49 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 50 grams fat; 24 grams saturated fat; 273 mg cholesterol; 40 grams sugar; 59 mg sodium.

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