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Chocolate Pots de Creme in Baby Pumpkins
I adore chocolate Pots de Creme. Most of my previous recipes were made traditionally with uncooked egg yolks, which to be honest, didn't thrill me too much. Granted, they tasted great, but they were not very safe for those people with compromised immunity, or those who were very young or very old. After much fiddling, I came up with this lightly orange scented recipe, which heats the egg yolks enough to kill the bacteria, and actually produces a final product that seems richer and creamier than the original. This version is a lot trickier than the original recipes, and requires attention to detail and a good thermometer. It is still a quick and relatively easy recipe to prepare and is adorable in the pumpkin cups. You can also serve this mixture in pots de creme molds or ramekins. Feel free to omit or use your favorite liqueur in place of the Grand Marnier. As in all recipes of this type, the quality and taste of the chocolate you use will directly impact the taste of the final recipe, in this case more than others. The final pots de creme will be like a softened version of whatever chocolate you use, so choose a chocolate that you like best to eat.
8 baby pumpkins
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
12 ounces high quality bittersweet, semi-sweet, or milk chocolate (or a mixture)
6 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
Place a large soup pot filled with water on the stove to boil. Carve the tops from the pumpkins and set aside. Scoop out the interior and seeds, leaving a thin shell. Discard the seeds and flesh, or use in another recipe. Place the pumpkins in the boiling water and boil for about a minute. Remove and drain. Brush the pumpkin flesh with the orange juice, making sure that none puddles in the bottom of the pumpkins. In a small heavy saucepan heat the milk and heavy cream until tiny bubbles just begin to form around the edges of the pan. While the milk and cream are heating, melt the chocolate over a double boiler with hot, but not simmering water in the bottom. If the water is too warm at this point, the egg yolks will curdle. Stir frequently until melted and smooth. Whisk the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture until the mixture is smooth and thick. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the chocolate mixture, whisking briskly and constantly. Adding the mixture too fast will curdle the eggs, so pour very slowly. Increase the heat under the double boil until the water simmers, than keep constant. Whisking constantly, cook the chocolate mixture over the heating water until the temperature of the chocolate mixture reaches 160 degrees. Remove immediately from the double boiler and pour into a boil. Beat in the Grand Marnier. Place the bowl in a bed of ice or ice water and cool, stirring constantly but slowly with a wooden spoon. Don't stir too vigorously or the mixture will have unattractive air bubbles throughout it. Once the mixture has cooled to room temperature, spoon into the prepared pumpkins, Tightly wrap the pumpkins with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. Serve chilled and garnish with the pumpkin top or curled orange peel.
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