White Chocolate Pots de Creme With Candied Orange
I am blessed by having a remarkable number of wonderful people in my life. Mike and I both have loving and nurturing families as well as diverse and supportive friends. There is a broad network of people that I consider near and dear to my heart and they run the gamut in terms of who they are, what they do, what they enjoy and support and how they relate to others. One thing that they all have in common, however, is that they’re good, kind, generous people and I’m lucky to have them in my life.
The thing is, we all know that friendships and other relationships require upkeep and communication. We need to see each other when we can, and do our best to keep in touch when seeing each other is a bit of an improbability. People that we care about need to know that we care about them, and it’s important that we take an active interest in each other’s lives and well being.
But…sometimes that’s easier said than done. And sometimes after the rigors of work, life, responsibilities and commitments, it’s hard to make time for yourself and your immediate kinfolk, let alone 50 of your closest acquaintances. I’m notorious for spreading myself too thin and being constantly in motion 24/7 – but that’s not always enough, and it’s sad to lose contact with people that I care about.
Such was the case with one of my good lady friends, Sooli. Jeez, I just adore that woman. She would give you the shirt off her back and then ask you if you’d like a gift receipt, that one. She also has a no B.S. attitude that I envy, a sharp wit and incredible work ethic, and impeccable taste in shoes and handbags. We used to work together back in the day, and we tried to keep in touch over the years despite the fact that we both usually had two jobs and a chronically hectic social schedule.
But days go by, it’s hard to carve out the time to call somebody let alone get together, and gradually we lost touch. Because I’m a total Facebook creeper we still had a line of contact, and I would always eagerly scroll through pictures of her son’s birthday pictures, her vacation photos, and so on. It’s not the same though, and last week we finally got together for the first time in a year and a half. We had a hoot and it was a good reminder that we’re friends for a reason and that maybe a bit of extra effort needs to be made so that we don’t lose contact again. I know this much – it won’t be another year before we see each other the next time.
Anyway, I’m being sentimental and rambling on, as I’m wont to do. I should just get to the recipe already. I didn’t know what to make for dessert, but I knew that her family likes good honest food so I wanted to keep it pretty simple – and delicious. Simple and delicious is a good combination, no? So I went with something rich, sweet, and as effortlessly classy as my fabulous friend. Oh yes, that’s right, Pots de Creme.
I made some dark chocolate Pots de Creme for the first time about six years ago as a ‘just because’ kind of a thing. Note: do NOT make these as a ‘just because’ kind of thing, because you will eat them. All. And then feel sick and slightly very ashamed. Four ounces of chocolate, cream and egg yolk doesn’t seem like a lot in terms of volume, but it is when you eat three of them in a row. And you will. I’m just warning you in advance – think of this as a Pots de Creme PSA if you like.
White Chocolate Pots de Creme With Candied Orange
- 3 oranges
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/4 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- 2 cups whipping cream *
- 1 cup milk
- 6 oz white chocolate **
- 1 inch fresh ginger root
** “Use the best quality white chocolate that you can afford.” Or, if you’re like me and you just paid your MasterCard bill, Bakers is fine – I promise.
Start with 2 oranges with which we’ll make the candied orange. Warning: this is easy-peasy, but does take some time. I suggest that you catch up on your PVR requirements because you won’t be too busy for the next 2 hours.
PS: I hope you like oranges, because you’re about to find yourself with 2 peeled oranges on your hands and no place for them to go.
PPS: I hope you also like candied orange peel, because this makes far more than you need for this dish, but if you’re going to make it then you might as well go all the way, right? And…and candied peel is a nice snack…and stuff…..
Cut the top and bottom off of each orange, and slice down in broad strips to remove the rind and white pith. Try not to get too much orange flesh in the slices, but if you do, well, meh. It’s getting boiled anyway, they’ll just be a bit thicker.
Cut the strips horizontally into 1/8 inch slices.
Place the orange rind slices in a small pot and cover them with water. Put the pot on medium heat and bring this up to a boil. Let it boil for a few (5-10) minutes.
Drain the orange slices and discard the liquid.
Oh, but don’t think you’re done. Nope. Not by a long shot. Repeat the process at least two (or three) more times until the pith is slightly translucent. Blanching the peel in fresh water several times is important to remove the bitterness which makes raw orange peel so unpleasant. I’m sorry, but it’s a necessary evil. Like income tax. Or ketchup.
In the mean time, preheat the oven to 300F and separate all six eggs. Now…I hate to break it to you, but we don’t use the whites at all. I know, I know. First with the orange peel and now with this. I’m kind of a jerk that way. But hey! Egg white omelets for breakfast tomorrow! Or Angel Food Cake!! Or something else that uses egg whites!!
Whisk the egg yolks with 2 tbsp of sugar and then add in 2 tsp of grated orange rind from your third orange…which will also not be used beyond this point. I’m thinking of a citrus laden fruit salad to go with that egg white omelet….
Peel the ginger (I find that the side of a spoon is the easiest way to do this) and cut it up into 5 or 6 disks. The ginger will only lightly scent the dish when all is said and done, so have no fear. Slicing the root into disks increases the surface area per slice which means that more flavor can permeate, but they’re also easier to weed out when the time draws nigh.
In a medium saucepan or pot bring the cream, milk and ginger up to a boil. As soon as it boils, take it off the heat.
Cut the white chocolate up into chunks and drop this into the hot cream, stirring occasionally until it is all combined. If you were to leave this on the heat as you stir in the chocolate, the chocolate has a greater likelihood of seizing. This is bad. Basically that means that you end up with separated chocolate pulp and a whole lot of wasted dairy. Letting it melt gently is totally the way to go…so, off the heat please.
Alright, ready to temper some yolks? These next two pictures are slightly flimsy because:
a) I only have two hands, so taking a picture whilst pouring and whisking can be tricky.
b) If I had three hands I would probably be eating cheese with the third so it wouldn’t help.
c) If I had four hands, I would reserve one entirely for goosing strangers on city busses which means that my pictures still wouldn’t improve. So hey, take what you can get.
To temper the yolks, take one ladleful of the hot cream/chocolate and slowly drizzle it into the yolk mixture while whisking constantly to avoid getting scrambled eggs. Okay, now do this again one more time so there are a total of 2 ladlefuls of chocolate creaminess in the egg mixture.
Slowly pour the tempered yolks back into the pot, whisking again all the while.
When everything is combined and nicely whisked, strain it out into a clean bowl (or pot, or some other vesicle which happens to be on hand). This will remove the ginger, orange rind, and any bits and pieces of egg which panicked when they met the hot chocolate and decided to solidify. If you’re even tempered and an even temperer, there likely won’t be any of these…but better safe than sorry.
Lightly spray eight (8) ramekins of four (4) ounce size with non-stick cooking spray. Pour the custard mixture evenly into them.
Before we cook our petite pots we want to make a Bain Marie, or a water bath. A Bain Marie is technically a piece of cooking equipment, but we here at the Choosy Beggars don’t have such fancy stuff so we improvise. Take a casserole dish or roasting pan and evenly space your ramekins inside it. Pour very hot water into the dish, between the ramekins, until it reaches somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 up the sides of the ramekins. The Bain Marie allows the pots de creme to cook evenly without drying out.
Cook the pots de creme for 30 – 45 minutes. How long they cook will depend largely on how hot your oven is. When they’re ready they will be set/firm around the edges, and still loose/jiggly in the center.
Alright, and during the time that it took us to do all of that, we have finally blanched our orange peel enough that we can go on to the candying step. Drain the orange peel one more time and then put it back in the pot with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. ‘Translucent’ looks like the picture below.
Bring this to a boil and let it cook down until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated. The time will vary according to the heat of your element, but it took me about 25 – 30 minutes. Hey, good things take time.
Spread the orange peel out on a piece of parchment paper to cool down, aiming for as even a layer as possible. Let it cool for 5 – 10 minutes before sprinkling on the last 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and tossing the pieces to coat them.
And….WE’RE DONE!!! Wheeeeeeeeee!! You didn’t think the orange peel would ever be ready, did you? But take a bite. Really, if you’ve made it this far you should taste it. Good, no? I mean, REALLY GOOD. Like, TV snack time good. On cereal good. Just because you’re walking by good. And…and it’s peel from fruit, so technically it’s in one of the four food groups, so really we should feel rather virtuous for eating it plain on it’s own. Yes. I think so.
Serve the pots de creme when they’re warm or at room temperature, and garnish with a few slices of the candied orange.
When you drop a spoon down into this it is soft, silky, and absolutely luxuriously decadent. This is chocolate meets velvet…meets mouth. Rich, creamy and absolutely worthy of a very good friend that you missed very much.
And now that he’s discovered that reuniting with old friends = rich and delicious desserts, Mike has started to ask me questions like, “Hey, how’s your friend *mumble mumble* doing? Haven’t seen him/her in a while, have you? Maybe…maybe you want to give them a call……”
So there we have it: White Chocolate Pots de Creme With Candied Orange, and a sentimental little post about life, love, and the pursuit of chocolate. Thanks for coming out. And don’t worry – Mike will be blogging tomorrow for Brewsday Tuesday, so you’ll have fewer sappy stories about people that I care about, and more references to Man Juice and dirty hippies. I promise.