Pot de Creme: Comfort Food for a Sophisticated Palate

Pudding often shows up at the top of people's comfort food lists. It's sweet and creamy, often made with chocolate, and easy-to-make (even from scratch!). But there is something a little too "plastic-cup-on-the-lunch-tray" about pudding for it to make an appearance at a dinner meant to seduce. So if you want to pamper your mate with a luscious, creamy dessert, but want to avoid the grammar school associations, make pot de créme. Pot de crèmes work perfectly for your Valentine's Day scenario. Even the French name is romantic. Although pot de créme is referred to as a custard, it is actually a small porcelain pot with a matching lid, which holds the custard. The lid prevents a skin from forming. Whatever you want to call it or whatever you want to serve it in (and at Olives we don't use a small porcelain pot), we love it. It is a wonderful and mystical thing. It is very closely related to pudding, but a little lighter, a little softer in texture than what your mom made.

Pot de crémes are very easy to make and my recipe for Milk Chocolate Pot de Créme has an incredible flavor not found in store-bought varieties of pudding or custard. I like mine more pudding-like, and my pastry chef Paige likes it softer. If you want it stiffer like me, use another whole egg. Also, we use only El Rey milk chocolate. It's less sweet than other varieties and slightly nuttier. And, it can be made up to three days in advance so that you have time to make your Valentine's Day as romantic as you want it be. Serve it with freshly whipped cream for a creamy, dreamy dessert.

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