Patrice Demers’ chocolate and caramel pots de crème recipe with Maldon salt
“This dessert is particularly important to me. Its creation was a defining moment in my career. When we opened Les Chèvres restaurant, I was just 23 years old. For the first time in my life, I had complete freedom to create the desserts I wanted. Of course, I still had a lot to learn and I was still finding my style. One year after the opening of Les Chèvres, we decided to transform the second dining room into a new concept: Le Chou. The idea was to offer a more accessible bistro alternative to Les Chèvres. Initially, all savoury dishes were $8 and desserts were $6. So I had to create 5 new desserts, less elaborate than those served at Les Chèvres. From the beginning, I wanted a dark chocolate dessert that would become the signature of Le Chou. My first idea was to make a chocolate pot de crème topped with a coffee mousse and served in a cup. Unfortunately, I didn’t receive the mugs I wanted in time and had to quickly find a solution. After a trip to the dollar store, I returned to the restaurant with a case of small glass jars. I decided to change my dessert a bit by adding a fleur de sel crumble and a caramel mousse. The success of this dessert was immediate, beyond anything I could have imagined. Thanks in large part to this dessert, I made one of my first television appearances on Josée DiStasio’s show and the following year, I wrote my first cookbook. 15 years later, it’s still available at my store and I still enjoy making it just as much.”
Chocolate and caramel pots de crème with Maldon salt
Preparation: 90 minutes
Cooking: 20 minutes
- 270 g dark chocolate (I use Valrhona Manjari 64%)
- 250 g (1 cup) milk
- 250 g (1 cup) 35% cream
- 50 g (1/4 cup) sugar
- 100 g (5) egg yolks
- 115 g (1/2 cup) cold salted butter, cubed
- 90 g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 150 g (1 cup) all-purpose flour
- 20 g (3 tbsp.) cocoa powder
- 3 g (1 tsp.) Maldon salt
- 250 g (1 cup) milk
- 250 g (1 cup) 35% cream
- 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 90g (1/2 cup) sugar
- 80 g (4 units) egg yolks
- In a double boiler or microwave, melt the chocolate but do not exceed 140 ˚F (60˚C).
- In a saucepan, bring the milk, cream and about half the sugar to a boil.
- In a bowl, whisk together the yolks and remaining sugar thoroughly.
- While whisking, gently pour the boiling liquid over the yolks to gradually warm them up.
- Return to saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until custard coats back of spoon or reaches 180°F to 183°F (82°C to 84°C). Strain custard through a fine sieve.
- Pour custard in 3 batches over melted chocolate while emulsifying with a hand mixer.
- Pour about 70 g (1/3 cup) of custard into each jar. Place jars on a plate and carefully move to the refrigerator.
- Leave the jars uncovered for 1 hour to allow the cream to cool. Then close the jars and leave to set completely for at least 8 more hours.
- In a mixer, using a flat beater, mix all the ingredients until the crumble changes colour and becomes dark. When pressed between your hands, it should hold together easily.
- Crumble onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C).
- Place the crumble in the oven for 8 minutes. Using a spatula, gently stir the crumble so as not to break it up too much, but only to make sure it cooks evenly. Return to the oven for an additional 8 minutes.
- Stir the crumble again and return to the oven for another 4 or 5 minutes. The best way to know if the crumble is cooked enough is to let it cool completely. As long as it is warm, it will remain soft. Return it to the oven for a few more minutes if it is not perfectly crisp.
- Let the crumble cool completely and store in an airtight bowl at room temperature.
- In a small saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and vanilla to a boil. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Place another saucepan over medium high heat. Pour in just enough sugar to cover the bottom and wait until it begins to melt slightly. Gradually add the remaining sugar to the pan as it melts.
- When all the sugar is added and it starts to caramelize, use a wooden spoon to stir it to make sure it colours evenly.
- Cook the caramel until it is dark or reaches a temperature of 365˚F (184 °C). Remove from heat and pour in a very small amount of the hot milk and cream mixture to stop the caramel from cooking.
- Next, slowly pour in the remaining liquid and return to the heat to bring back to a simmer. We want to make sure that all the caramelized sugar that hardened during the addition of the liquid can dissolve in the mixture, so lower the heat to minimum and let it cook for 2 or 3 minutes, covered.
- In a bowl, whisk together egg yolks. While stirring, gently pour in the boiling mixture to gradually warm the yolks. Check the temperature of the mixture, if it exceeds 180 ˚F (82 °C), there is no need to cook it further. If the temperature is lower, however, return to medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the caramel custard is sufficiently cooked, betwee 180˚F and 183˚F (between 82 °C and 84°C).
- Strain custard through a fine sieve and cool on ice.
- When the custard is cold, pour into a whipped cream siphon, close it tightly and fill with 2 cartridges of N2O.
- Place a large tablespoon of crumble in each jar, on top of the cream. In a small bowl, test the texture of the caramel mousse. If the mousse seems too liquid, stir the siphon until the mousse holds together. Fill the jars 3/4 full with the caramel mousse. Finish by adding a pinch of crushed Maldon salt flakes.