Chocolate Pots de Creme

Happy Monday, everyone!  I’m still hacking away a mile  a minute, but at least I don’t feel like death warmed over any more.  Hopefully I’m on the downside of it all.

I hope all the dads out there has a great Father’s Day; poor Beloved spent his in transit for a business trip.  Since he wasn’t home, I made his Father’s Day dinner on Saturday night instead – grilled steaks with Bearnaise sauce, sauteed greens and roasted sweet potatoes.  I haven’t made a Beanaise sauce in many years and was worried it would break or curdle, but I needn’t have worried – it came out beautifully (you get the recipe later this week).  I also decided that dessert was in order, since it was a special occasion, and made this one – I’d been pondering it for quite some time.

Pots de Creme are really just a sophisticated pudding, and when made with high-quality dark chocolate are a rich and decadent treat.  Since they’re a custard, they are typically made with eggs, sugar and milk or cream but with this damn bronchitis, I’ve been avoiding even the small amounts of dairy I normally consume and used coconut milk and water.  Refined sugar is out of the question, of course, and while the recipe calls for coconut sugar, you could also use evaporated cane juice.  I used 85% dark chocolate, but if you choose to use a 72% dark, you can probably decrease the sugar to 1/3 of a cup.

And was this good?  It got the reaction I was hoping for – Beloved gobbled his down and finished mine off, too.  Not that it wasn’t good, because it is simply delicious, but it’s so rich, and my appetite has been so poor lately, I just couldn’t finish it.

Note:  You can, of course, use cow’s dairy rather than coconut milk if you choose.  I recommend 1 cup of whole milk with 1 cup of heavy cream.  I also had melted the chocolate in a double boiler and added it to the mixture after I’d whisked the hot milk into the eggs, and it seized up a bit – I had to whisk it briskly to incorporate it, and the result was that the custard was just a tiny bit grainy.  I’m recommending melting the chocolate in the coconut milk before adding it to the eggs in the hope that the custards will be silky and smooth when done.

Chocolate Pots de Creme
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Serves: 6
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (13.5 ounce can)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (85% cocoa)
  1. Whisk together the coconut milk and water in a large saucepan; add the vanilla bean pod and seeds and bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; cover and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla bean pod and discard.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and coconut sugar in a large mixing bowl until the sugar is mostly dissolved.
  3. Break up the chocolate and add it to the coconut milk mixture; reheat until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is almost, but not quite, at a boil. Slowly whisk in a small amount of the chocolate mixture to the eggs, to temper the mixture and avoid cooking the eggs. Keep adding the hot chocolate mixture until it is fully incorporated into the eggs and sugar.
  4. Carefully pour the custard into individual ramekins and place them in a baking dish or roasting pan large enough to hold them all without crowding the containers. Fill the pan with hot water until it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins, taking care not to let water splash into the custards.
  5. Bake the custards for 30 to 40 minutes; when they are done, the centers will be soft but the edges should be firm. Remove the custards from the oven and allow them to cool in the water bath. Cover each with plastic wrap and refrigerate before serving.
  6. Nutrition (per serving): 292 calories, 22.2g total fat, 122.5mg cholesterol, 37.6mg sodium, 271.8mg potassium, 18.8g carbohydrates, 1.8g fiber, 13.4g sugar, 5.4g protein.


Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Thanks, everyone, for your good wishes yesterday.  I’m still here – I’m not necessarily feeling any better, but I’m not any worse, and I’m still on my feet (so to speak), so it’s all good.  Beloved has to drive to Louisville, Kentucky tonight to see a client, so it will just be me and The Young One; I plan to go to bed early and sleep as much as possible.  Thank goodness for Mucinex, that’s all I can (or want to) say.

Today’s recipe was an accompaniment for yesterday’s, and is every bit as delicious and easy.  In fact, it was so good that I can see making it again with a variety of spices – Morrocan occurred to me, as well as Indian and Italian.  But as it was, the Mexican spice blend worked really well and it was a great side dish for the Spicy Slow Cooker Short Ribs.  You could also cut a small onion into wedges and toss it with the cauliflower but as it is, this recipe works for just about any diet out there:  it’s low carb, low fat, low calorie, paleo, Whole30 – even vegan.

But mostly, it’s really, really tasty.

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower
Serves: 6
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine the salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, paprika and cayenne in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and place in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the spice mix; toss to coat evenly and spread in a single layer on a shallow, rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Roast until tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 71 calories, 5.1g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 365.6mg sodium, 337.9mg potassium, 6.1g carbohydrates, 2.7g fiber, 2g sugar, 2.2g protein


Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake

I was bonking around on Facebook the other day, when I came across a link to a recipe for grain-free donuts.

Yeah.  Donuts.

I don’t care for donuts – when I was growing up, my parents owned a series of donut shops and bakeries, and I swear I worked in one from the time I was 11 until I was 30.  If I never saw another donut, I would not care.  But as I looked over the recipe, it occurred to me that with some modifications it might work as one of Beloved’s favorite treats:  coffee cake.

I have a marvelous recipe for coffee cake, but I haven’t made it in years (for obvious reasons).  I’d been pondering the recipe for several days when I decided to make breakfast for dinner last night (sausage/onion/mushroom omelets.  With cheese.  And 3 eggs).  The thought of the coffee cake wouldn’t leave my wee little brain, so I decided to give it a whirl.

And it. Is. Marvelous.  I’m surprised there’s any left – Beloved has been inhaling it.  It has a lovely texture and flavor, and isn’t overly sweet at all.  And don’t be intimidated by the list of ingredients – this really came together quickly and easily.

A few things to note:  I’ve been playing around with adding a little tapioca and potato flour to baked goods made with almond flour in an attempt to improve the crumb – nut flour baked goods tend to be kind of dense.  I don’t have the ratios just right quite yet, but I do believe I’m on to something.  If you choose not to use them (if you can’t find them, or don’t want the extra carbs in your dish), replace them with an equal amount of almond flour.  The cake will be a little heavier, but it won’t affect the taste.

I used date sugar in the topping, since I didn’t want it to be terribly sweet – date sugar is nothing more than finely ground dessicated dates.  If you can’t find it or don’t care for the taste of dates, coconut sugar will probably work well, too.  Also, don’t melt the coconut oil for the topping; it doesn’t need to be cold, but it should be solid when you work it into the date sugar and cinnamon.

Also, the cinnamon taste is very strong; it took a little getting used to.  I may reduce the amount in the topping to 1 tablespoon next time.

Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Coconut-Cinnamon Coffee Cake
Serves: 8
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon potato flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon Topping
  • 1/2 cup date sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweeted shredded coconut
  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Stir together the dry ingredients – the flours, salt, baking soda and spices – in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients – eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla – and mix on medium speed until the ingredients are combined. Increase the speed to high and mix until the batter is very smooth, about 2 minutes.
  3. For the cinnamon topping, combine the date sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add the coconut oil, and rub it into the mixture with your fingers or a fork until it resembles wet sand. Stir in the coconut until well combined and set aside.
  4. Pour the batter into a well-greased 8″ x 8″ baking dish and sprinkle the cinnamon topping evenly over the surface. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack; cut into squares and serve.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 304 calories, 23.4g total fat, 69.8mg cholesterol, 142.4mg sodium, 186.9mg potassium, 18.8g carbohydrates, 3.9g fiber, 12.7g sugar, 3g protein


Savory Asparagus Flan

If you live in the northeast (or north midwest, if you prefer) like we do, you’re probably awash in asparagus about now.

Which we love – don’t get me wrong.  Beloved even has half of one of our vegetable gardens planted with it in the hopes that we’ll have even more asparagus next year, aside from what we pick up from the CSA and farmer’s market.  But after a month, I look at it and wonder just how the dickens I’m going to cook it.  I’m beginning to feel a little bit like Bubba from Forrest Gump:  there’s boiled asparagus, poached asparagus, steamed asparagus, sauteed asparagus, creamed asparagus, grilled asparagus, roasted asparagus, asparagus with mayonnaise, asparagus with hollandaise, orange asparagus…

So what did I do?  I made asparagus flan.

I initially intended to make this a crustless quiche, but I’ve gotten to the point where I’m just not all that happy with my standard quiche recipe – not that it isn’t delicious, but it’s just too “watery” when it’s all said and done.  I knew that adding more eggs would help (or a crust – ain’t gonna happen), but I don’t care for really “eggy” quiches, either.  So afterwards, I decided to add a couple of eggs and bake it in a water bath, when it occurred to me – that’s more or less a flan.

I was really quite pleased with how this came out – it wasn’t at all watery or loose; in fact, the custard firmed up really well, but had a lovely silky texture; nor was it too “eggy” for my taste.  In fact, I was so pleased with it, that this is probably going to become my “go to” method for crustless quiches, such as it were, from now on.  The only thing I might do different next time I make this particular dish is cut the asparagus (which needed no pre-cooking) a little smaller.

Note:  I added cheese because I thought it would compliment the flavor of the onions and asparagus well, and it did – I used a smooth Greek sheep’s milk cheese (I don’t recall the name of it), very reminiscent of Gouda, so that’s what I called for in the recipe.  You can use any mild-tasting cheese that melts well.  Or leave it out all together, use the coconut milk, and this becomes Whole30 compliant.

Savory Asparagus Flan
Savory Asparagus Flan
Savory Asparagus Flan
Serves: 6
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or clarified butter
  • 1 cup gouda cheese, shredded (optional)
  • 8 ounces asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream [b]or[/b] coconut milk
  • salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt the ghee in a heavy skillet over medium low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and cream or coconut milk with a little salt and pepper.
  4. Spread the caramelized onions over the bottom of a greased flan dish, or deep dish pie plate; sprinkle the cheese, if using, evenly over the onions. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the onions and cheese. Arrange the asparagus spears on top.
  5. Place the dish in a pan large enough to hold it; carefully pour very hot water around the flan, until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the dish.
  6. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the flan is set and beginning to turn golden brown on top. Remove from the water bath and cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  7. Nutrition (per serving): 300 calories, 25.9g total fat, 217.7mg cholesterol, 342mg sodium, 318.8mg potassium, 5.6g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.7g sugar, 13.1g protein