Makes four dainty servings
- 4 ounces chopped dark chocolate
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- dash of salt
- 1 teaspoon brandy or other flavored liquer, optional
- Whipped cream for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350°. Separate egg yolks into a small bowl and save the whites for another use. Beat until lemon-colored and set aside.
- Heat chocolate, cream and sugar in a bowl over simmering water, not boiling. Make sure the level of the water will not reach the bottom of the bowl. Stir with a whisk until melted.
- Remove from heat and beat a small amount of chocolate mixture into the egg yolks to temper them. Gradually add the egg-chocolate mixture back into the hot mixture and whisk to blend thoroughly. Blend in vanilla and brandy, if using.
- Strain the mixture through a small sieve into a 1-quart measuring cup. Pour into demitasse cups or small ramekins set in a baking pan.
- Gently set the pan in the oven and carefully pour hot water into the pan so it reaches about halfway up the sides of the cups.
- Cover with foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until edges are slightly firm and the center is slightly soft. Cooking times will vary depending on the size of your cups, the heat of the water bath and the temperature of the custard. Cook to an internal temperature of 150-155 degrees on an instant read thermometer.
- Remove the pan from the oven and the cups from the water bath. Allow to cool for several minutes. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Garnish with whipped cream.
- Be delicate when whisking and pouring. The idea is to blend without incorporating too much air. Foam can be removed with a bit of paper towel.
- If you use an instant read thermometer, the hole will heal itself as the custard cools.
- Be very careful removing the water bath from the oven. Splashes can burn you. If you splash water into a cup, quickly blot with a paper towel, very delicately.