Thursday, 12 November 2009

Hot Chocolate Pots with Cardamom Cream

I had my very lovely cousin and her boyfriend over for dinner the other night. As I'm going to attempt to look half way decent in a wedding dress in about 10 months time, I figured I'd do a nice, light dessert. My one golden rule for dinner parties (no matter how casual or fancy they are) is to make dishes that can be largely prepared ahead of time. I want to sit around and drink with my friends, safe in the knowledge that a delicious meal is just a few moments from ready in the kitchen. They're there to see you, after all, not sit around whilst you get into a fluster in the kitchen. So, with this in mind, I decided to make poached pears - they could be poached the night before and served gently warmed, maybe with some prunes that had been steeped in the poaching juices too. Ooo, and then a big dollop of cardamom cream alongside to add a note of richness... So went my thought process, anyway.

So the night before, I carefully prepared and poached 8 sweet little pears. The result? Thoroughly underwhelming. I'm not sure the pears were ripe enough and I'm certain that red wine wasn't the right thing to poach them in. Didn't work for me at all! And so at this point I'm stuck. Last minute desserts are so often a rubbish cop out and I so desperately didn't want to be chained to the kitchen.

And then the answer came to me - individual hot chocolate pots. YUM!!!! Ok, so they don't fall into the slimming catagory but hey, it was an emergency! And boy, were they good. The crowning glory? The cardamom cream. A total revelation!!! I had to take it away from JJ to prevent him eating the whole lot with a spoon. A fantastic contrast to the deeply chocolatey chocolate pots - don't be fooled, these pack one hell of a chocolate punch - and an interestingly different flavour without being too crazy or out there. I could quite happily devour one of these a day for all eternity. Plus they're sooooooooo easy and quick to make. In fact, I'm making them again tonight to take round to one of my friend's houses! So you can see that the wedding diet lasted about 20 seconds...

Hot Chocolate Pots with Cardamom Cream
adapted from David Lebovitz

Chocolate Pots
285g Chocolate - I used Green and Blacks 70%. You want the good stuff. Trust me.
60g Butter (unsalted or salted - just also add a pinch of salt if you use unsalted)
50g Sugar, divided into 2 lots of 25g (roughly)
4 large eggs at room temperature, separated
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
slosh brandy
1 tsp instant coffee granules

Take 6 little pots. Espresso cups that can withstand the oven are just darling, although I don't have these so I used ramekins. Basically, whatever you have will be just fine. Grease these lightly and dust with caster sugar.

In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water (don't let the bottom of the bowl touch the water!) melt the chocolate and butter together, stirring until beautifully smooth and glossy. Remove this from the heat and stir in one portion of the sugar (25g). Allow to cool slightly before mixing in the egg yolks - you don't want them to cook yet! Then mix in the flavourings - I used vanilla, brandy and coffee, you could use whatever makes you go weak at the knees*.

In a nice, sparkley clean bowl - if there's even the faintest hint of grease the egg whites won't whisk up properly - whisk up the egg whites. Bits of yolk and shell also prevent them from frothing nicely, so take care with this bit. It's not hard, just not the time to play it fast and loose with the eggs. In case you ever do that...

Ahem, anyway, so whisk the egg whites up until fairly stiff. Then add in the other half of the sugar and whisk until they form soft, floppy peaks. Fold one third of this into the chocolate mix, then fold in the remainder until just incorporated. You don't want to overmix as you don't want to loose all of that lovely air you just worked so hard to get in there. Divide the mix up between the 6 little pots.

To cook, pop them in a 220C preheated oven for 10-12 mins. Mine cooked in 10 - the tops want to be firm but don't overcook as you want a yummy, molten centre.

They can be left at room temperature for an hour or two and cooked at the last minute or in the fridge for a day or so and brought up to room temperature before cooking. Perfect for dinner parties as you can be super organised!

Cardamom Cream
250ml double cream
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tbsp caster sugar

Sieve the cardamom as you don't want any gritty bits in the cream. Then simply whip everything together, up to soft peaks and dollop on the hot puds. Or eat straight from the bowl if you're JJ...

Rosy xx

*Being a long time fan of Ina Garten, I tend to always add vanilla and coffee to chocolate as she says it just makes the chocolate taste more chocolately. And she's amazing so who am I to argue?! But David adds a bunch of very interesting flavours to his spiced version of these - cinnamon, chilli, cloves and black pepper. He's amazing too so I totally think that would be awesome! Just go nuts. Only one word of warning - I didn't go with the spices as I had the cardamom cream and was adding a very distinctive flavour in that way. If you have complex flavours in the chocolate pots, you probably want to pair them with something more neutral, such as a simple vanilla icecream or creme fraiche.


  1. Wow…where do I start? First congrats on your wedding and good lucky with the diet, having a food blog and diet don’t go hand to hand. My “blobs” are here to prove…LOL
    Glad to know you figured that out (the cook ahead thing) I had to learn that in the hard way. I decided to make Paella with the gests in the living room (disaster) the Paella was great but I hardly saw my gests. Learned my lesson. I also had a poached pear snafu once (it worked so well for Ina Garten). But your solution was genius…who doesn’t love chocolate? And cardamom cream must be very aromatic. Loved your blog, Advertise at Joy the baker was my best move. I’ve got lovely people coming to visit me.

  2. I love the sound of the Cardamom Cream. What a great dessert for your family to enjoy.
    Congrats on your upcoming wedding..workout a ton, it my blog..Fitness Friday!