Outside of France, for some reason, Pots de Crème are the underdog of French custards. They don’t receive nearly as much love as crème brulées do – but if you go to France, it’s a whole different story.
The French love their dairy products: yogurts of all kinds and what we call the “crèmes desserts”. If you ever visit a French supermarket, you will assuredly stumble on our entire refrigerated aisle(s) devoted to yogurts, fromages blancs, flans, mousses, faisselles and all kinds of custards and heavenly pots de crèmes.
When in Canada, I miss this incredible French selection of dairy products, so I often make my own little pots de crème at home – often with chocolate. My favorite!
The simplest ingredients for a rich taste and texture.
As per tradition, these classic French Chocolate Pots de Crème are made of the simplest ingredients – most of them you likely have on hand already: heavy cream, chocolate, sugar and eggs. With so few ingredients, the chocolate is allowed to really shine here – creating a rich, deeply chocolatey taste and texture. The Pots de Crème are baked in a water bath to produce a creamy custard, with only the top of the Pots “baking” in dry heat to create a thicker skin-like surface.
These little Chocolate Pots de Crème are incredibly simple to make at home and are perfect for making ahead too. You can pop them in the fridge for as long as two days, and serve them when needed.
Pots de Crème are best enjoyed by the spoonful – breaking into that top layer to dive into the luscious, deeply chocolatey cream.
How to make these Classic French Chocolate Pots de Crème.
As its name suggest, a pot de crème starts by selecting the right “pot” (baking vessel) for baking and serving. Pots de crèmes are rich and fulfilling – so only a small portion is needed. I like to opt for traditional 120ml glass “petits pots”, that I keep from yogurts I buy in store. This recipe makes 6 “petits pots”.
If you don’t have or can’t find “petits pots”, you can opt for individual porcelain ramekins or other oven-safe vessels.
Once your vessel has been figured out, the recipe starts by slowly warming up the heavy cream and chocolate over medium-low heat, to melt the chocolate. In a separate bowl, the egg yolks, sugar and salt are whisked together. The hot chocolate cream then gets whisked into this egg/sugar mixture.
The petits pots get filled evenly with the cream and placed in a bigger baking dish. This dish gets filled hot with water (¾ of the way up the sides of the pots). Making this water bath ensures the cream will remain smooth when baking. Only the top of the cream will bake in the dry heat, which creates the signature “skin-like” surface of the Pots de Crème.
- You can opt for traditional 120ml glass “petits pots”, individual porcelain ramekins or other oven-safe vessels.
- Choose eggs that are as fresh as possible.
- Choose a high quality semi-sweet dark chocolate (70% is ideal). Chocolate Pots de Crème don’t have many ingredients – so a great quality chocolate will make a big difference.
- As mentioned above, baking the pots de crème in a water bath is essential to creating their signature texture: a creamy custard underneath a thick “skin”. I am confident enough that I can fill my dish with water and transfer the dish to the oven with steady hands. If you’re afraid of spilling water everywhere when transferring the dish into the oven, you can quickly pop the dish (with only the pots in and no water) into the oven and pour the water into the baking dish that is already in the oven.
- Most Chocolate Pots de Crème in France are simply enjoyed as is, with no toppings. In North America, they are often dressed up with whipped cream and chocolate shavings – which is a good way to use up any leftover or remaining heavy cream and chocolate you may have after making this recipe (no waste!).
Enjoy the pots de crème warm or let them cool to room temperature, refrigerate them (for up to 2 days) and serve them with a dollop of whipping cream and chocolate shavings.
I hope you’ll love these Classic French Chocolate Pots de Crème as much as I do! This recipe is a great classic to add to your French baking repertoire.
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400ml heavy cream (35%)
6 oz (180g) semi-sweet dark chocolate, roughly chopped
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup (50g) sugar
1/4 tsp salt
Whipped cream and chocolate shavings, for serving.
Step 1 – Preheat your oven to 325F(160C) with a rack in the middle.
Step 2 – In a medium saucepan, slowly warm up the heavy cream with the chopped chocolate over medium-low heat. Do not bring up to a boil – just warm up enough to melt the chocolate. Stir occasionally and remove from the heat when the chocolate is melted.
Step 3 – In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt together for 2 minutes until pale and fluffy. Pour 2 tablespoons of the hot cream into the egg yolk mixture and whisk (this tempers the egg yolks so they don’t curdle later). Slowly stir in the rest of the hot cream while continuously whisking.
Step 4 – Fill 6 small [120ml – ½ cup] pots or ramekins with the chocolate cream. Place the pots into a large baking dish and fill this dish with hot water ¾ up the sides of the pots.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the dish from the oven and carefully remove the ramekins from the baking dish. Let cool completely to room temperature before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating.
Chill for at least 3 hours before enjoying. For serving, top each pot with a dollop of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Did you make this recipe?
I’d love to know how it turned out! Please let me know by leaving a comment below, rate the recipe and/or share a photo on Instagram: tag @pardonyourfrench and hashtag it #pardonyourfrench. Bon Appetit!