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No-bake Mexican chocolate pots de crème

For me chocolate pots de crème is just another variation on chocolate pudding. Okay, a velvety, chocolatey egg custard pudding, to be exact!

I had never made this dessert before, until my friends Sonya and Robert (pots de crème pro’s) suggested I try a no-bake method from Cook’s Illustrated. The trick: cook the cream-milk-egg yolk (custard) mixture on the stovetop until properly thickened. This avoids the potentially messy water bath in the oven.

“Properly thickened” is actually pretty easy to figure out: dip a spoon in the custard, then drag a finger across the spoon to wipe a thick line through the custard. If the line holds its shape when you hold the spoon vertically, then the custard is done. If the borders of the line droop, then the custard needs more time on the stovetop. If the line holds, but the custard is lumpy, uhmm, then it’s overcooked —although you might be able to salvage it when pouring it through a fine sieve.

But for a more scientific (objective) measure, when the temperature of the custard is between 175F and 180F degrees, it is done. An instant-read thermometer is great for this task!

My recipe is based on a Cook’s Illustrated article from November 2006. I love Mexican chocolate, so combining it with some bittersweet chocolate into a custard form is quite delish. Because Mexican chocolate contains quite a lot of sugar, I don’t add sugar to the custard. In fact, I add bittersweet chocolate to counter the excess sweetness.

I took the custard off the heat when it reached 177F degrees. Interestingly, this was done while at a high elevation —7,000 feet (2 kilometers) at Robert’s beautiful cabin— but the dessert turned out well. We didn’t realize that we had ramekins, so we cooled it in a glass bowl (covered in cling film), exposed to the Eastern Sierra winter winds. 😀


  • 2 cups (1 pint) heavy whipping cream, preferably not ultra-pasteurized
  • 1/4 cup lowfat (1% fat) milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 discs (180 grams) of Mexican chocolate, such as Ibarra; each disc is usually 90 grams (approximately 3.1 ounces)
  • 3 to 4 ounces high quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, such as Guittard or Valrhona


  1. Whisk the heavy cream, milk and egg yolks in a medium sauce pan. Bring the mixture to somewhere between 175F and 180F degrees, over medium high heat, while periodically stirring.
  2. While the custard is heating, break both chocolates into small pieces. An easy way to do this is to place the chocolate in a plastic bag, then pounding it a few times with a hammer. Then put the chocolate into a non-metallic bowl and slowly melt it in a microwave oven: The time depends on the power of your oven (e.g., 2 to 3 minutes), but do take the bowl out and stir it every 20 to 30 seconds so that the chocolate doesn’t burn.
  3. Once the custard has reached the appropriate thickness or temperature, take it off the heat. Pour it through a fine sieve into the melted chocolate, whisking to incorporate the custard, as well as to smooth out any graininess in the chocolate.
  4. Chill the custard in a large bowl or individual ramekins for about 2 hours. Even though chilling in the refrigerator (or in freezing winds outdoors) helps to further thicken the pudding, the pots de crème remain delectable whether served warm, at room temperature or cold.

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