A recipe adapted from Nirmala's Edible Diary, a South American cookbook I received as a holiday gift from my friend Laura, this rich, yet not overly sweet, espresso chocolate custard sustained my husband Ted through a long New England blizzard. It's cooked over the gentle heat of a double boiler; if you don't have one, improvise as I do, by setting a stainless steel bowl over a pot of simmering water. I used Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips, which melted smoothly and saved a bit of chopping. The original recipe called for whole milk. I had skim milk and heavy cream on hand, and combined the two -- and it worked.
Espresso chocolate custard cups
1/2 cup loosely packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups skim milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp instant espresso powder
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or use chips)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Orange zest or mint leaves for garnish
In a large stainless steel bowl, or the top of a double boiler, whisk together the brown sugar and cornstarch with a pinch of sea salt. Slowly whisk in the cream and milk. Add the cinnamon and cayenne, scraping the sides of the pan with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients.
Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water; make sure the bowl is bigger than the pan, so the base of the bowl doesn't sit in the water. Cook, stirring frequently (but not constantly), for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture is the consistency of custard.
Remove the pan and bowl from the heat, and stir in the espresso and chocolate. Continue to stir for 2-3 minutes, until the chocolate is melted and fully incorporated. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Fill 6 small ramekins with the mixture, and place in the refrigerator to set for 3-4 hours. Serve cold, garnished with orange zest, mint leaves, or whipped cream.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Espresso chiffon cake with fudge frosting, from Smitten Kitchen
Chocolate espresso bars, from Sweet Mary
Banana espresso chocolate chip muffins, from Sweetnicks
Chocolate chip espresso cookies, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Mocha coffee coffee cake, from Joy the Baker
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