Ali and Evan sitting in a tree, C-O-O-K-I-N-G. No wonder these middle school sweethearts (take that, seniors!) opened Little Red Bike Cafe in their hometown of Portland, Oregon, in 2007. Known for their strong coffee and snazzy egg sandwiches, Jepson and Dohrmann (respectively) change up their market-driven menu of made-from-scratch comfort food each week. But they haven’t touched this recipe for chocolate-espresso pots de crème since they made it on their very first Valentine’s Day together.
Chocolate-Espresso Pots de Crème
Makes eight servings
8 oz. Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1½ c. heavy cream
½ c. whole milk
2 2-inch strips orange peel
1½ tsp. fresh ground espresso or instant espresso powder
6 large egg yolks
2 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 300°. Heat a kettle of water.
2. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
3. Scrape seeds from the inside of the vanilla bean and combine with pod, heavy cream, milk, orange peel, espresso, and a pinch of salt in a heavy saucepan. Heat the mixture until it begins to boil and remove from heat.
4. Pour mixture over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisking vigorously, add the chocolate mixture to the yolks in a slow, steady stream. Strain through a through fine sieve over a medium bowl. Discard pod, peel, and any other solid ingredients.
6. Arrange 8 coffee cups (or ramekins) in a small roasting pan. Ladle custard into cups, making sure they contain a equal amounts of custard, and fill the roasting pan with enough hot water so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the roasting pan with foil. Bake about 30 minutes until custards are just set around edge but centers wobble when cups are gently shaken.
7. Allow the cups to cool in the water bath about 1 hour, then serve at room temperature or chilled. Garnish with fresh whipped cream, espresso grounds, and orange peel.