Chocolate-Coffee Pots de Creme and Teaching AppreciationPosted: June 6, 2013
Things have settled down since we returned from our abruptly-shortened cruise (on a side note, M wrote about his Grandeur experience on Reddit–check it out if you want a different, but highly similar account of the events, haha). I was going to talk about all of the food onboard, but I figured that–except for restating that it was absolutely delicious and we all certainly gained a couple of pounds in our brief time onboard–it is probably best to wait. It is looking more and more likely that we will be using our cruise certificate to return to the Grandeur in January! I figure that it would be better to wait (and reinforce the habit of photographing what we are eating, so I do not miss as many shots of meals) until January to give you the full scope of a week of cruising. I do see an inspired panacotta recipe in my near future–that dish was too good to wait months in order to eat it again. But now, we are all now back to work, in spite of the general apathy that M and I admit feeling. While I perfectly understand why we came back early, and even though we took it easy for the rest of the week, it is a little disheartening to have missed the remainder of our vacation. As much as you try to relax and forget work, it is hard to be completely disconnected while at home. Even if I didn’t have to go into work, there was still laundry and cleaning and other unavoidable tasks to be done. We have been back for a whole week, and both of our jobs are gearing up for summer. This will surely bring me out of my funk. Summer camp is one of my absolute favorite times of the year.
Working with children is always interesting. The same uninhibited manners and frank curiosity that gives adults the funny stories and the memorable quotes (usually) starts to get manipulated, if not stifled as they grow. My classes are mini-studies in culture and society. Especially at camp, where I work with a group of our older students. It can be saddening and inspiring in turns, to watch a group of teenagers traversing the social landscape. There are many times that I just want to tell a student “Just wait, college will be better.” “Your geekiness is celebrated by your teachers–and when you get out of highschool, most people will realize that Doctor Who is awesome.” “Your peer group doesn’t understand you. They think you are ‘weird’, but you are confident and quirky and so much more well-equipped for real life than the rest of them.” There are nearly as many times that I want to hug them and celebrate them and thank them for including the ‘weird’ kid, for telling off their peer for making an ignorant joke, for taking a bigger risk in their performance than I would have during college. I have seen students shrug off differences and behaviors that adults are struggling to make sense of. Most importantly, I have seen students grow. Grow and grow and be perplexed by my awe. I have seen the student who cried through every class stand on stage and speak out his lines in confidence. I have seen the ‘lightbulb’ turn on as a student suddenly understands the subtext of her line. I have seen the pride when a student makes a bold character choice.
I think I spend at least half of my time teaching in quiet awe of these children. Another good portion is barely-concealed curiosity. The rest of that time might be actually teaching them acting. Haha. In all seriousness, try as I might (especially in summer), I can’t help comparing my students to myself in my high school years. Hindsight is 20/20. While I certainly wasn’t misbehaving (and neither are they), I can only imagine how highschool would have gone if I had half of the confidence, drive, and openness that my students seem to constantly portray. I have long-since moved past high school, and can readily admit that I stifled myself as much, if not more, as my peers did. I had some great times and some horrible times, as I am sure most people do. When I graduated and prepared for college, I also prepared to make myself open and to put myself out there. Quiet, shy, overthinking, awkward girl could stay in her corner–I was going to meet people and participate, and do my best to stop rehashing conversations or embarrassing moments. It took a little while, but I m so grateful that I had the self-awareness (even as I lacked in self-confidence) to change myself and my interactions. College was one of the best times of my life. While there were many moments of self-doubt and many times in my freshman year that I wanted to simply give up and shrink back to a wallflower, soon enough, I found myself with a wide array of friends, many of whom I cherish to this day; doing things I never thought I would be capable of doing. I served on students boards, I organized events, helped to start an honor fraternity chapter, and found out that what I most enjoyed was stage managing–you know, that job in theater that organizes everyone’s ideas and communications, that runs rehearsals, and takes the lead during performances. I never would have imagined myself doing these things in highschool. It is still surprising to stop and think about it now.
Luckily, so many of my students will not have to make that conscious choice that I did. So many are above and beyond my high-school self in confidence, maturity, leadership, and social interactions. For that I am grateful. Perhaps I am biased, by I firmly believe that our company shapes great individuals. I believe that children who come through our camp are bettered for their time there, and it is my privilege to watch and to help them grow. And I am so excited for a new season of inspiration and astonishment.
Now that I’ve summed up my unexpectedly emotional tangent on why I am excited for summer, even after losing half of my vacation…I do have a recipe for you. To those of you who read five sentences and skipped down to the recipe, you are in luck! As I mentioned in my post for my Berry-Lemon Syrup, I made Pots de Creme for the first time, on a whim, for Mother’s Day. I was
happily lamenting that I hadn’t taken any pictures, so I would have to make them again before I could share them with you. The next day, I found two delightful little Pots de Creme stashed in the back of my fridge. I did say the next day–don’t worry, these pictures have been sitting in my Photos folder far longer than those Pots de Creme lasted at my house. I’ve only just gotten around to sharing the recipe now.
I’ve seen variations on this recipe around the web–many of them are incomplete (the directions do not actually use all of the ingredients or vice versa) or rely on the hot coffee to cook all of the eggs, all while melting the chocolate. That makes me a bit leery. Many used blenders or food processors, which, aside from my trusty Magic Bullet Blender, I do not own. Sadly, the MBB was not big enough for this recipe. So, I’ve tinkered a bit with the ingredients, adapted a lot of the directions, and made this a mixer-and-bowl-friendly recipe. I wanted the chocolate to shine through, so I’ve cut back the sugar and added just a touch of cinnamon to support the coffee and chocolate flavors.
Chocolate-Coffee (Mocha) Pots de Creme
Adapted from Ree Drummond
Serves: 8 | Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 30 minutes
- 12 oz quality semi-sweet/dark chocolate
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1 c. hot, strong coffee
- 1 c. whole milk/half & half/heavy cream
- 4 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp. salt
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place coarsely chopped/chip chocolate into a large bowl. Add cinnamon. Slowly whisk in hot coffee. The chocolate pieces should melt within 5 minutes of stirring. If not, heat the cream–be careful not to scald it! Add cream and mix well. In a small bowl, beat eggs. Temper* with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of chocolate mixture, before adding egg mixture to chocolate mixture. Add vanilla extract, sugar, and salt and mix well. Pour mixture into ramekins or pots. Place pots in large pan. Fill the pan with hot water to make a water bath, until the water is one inch from the edge of the ramekins. Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake Pots de Creme for 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and water bath. Cool completely before moving to the fridge. Serve chilled with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.
*Tempering is adding a small amount of hot batter/mixture to beaten eggs while stirring, to slowly warm the eggs up to temperature. This keeps the eggs from scrambling when added back into the hot mixture. Keep stirring through the entire tempering process.
This dessert was so delicious and simple, I was surprised. I’m already dreaming up different flavors–white chocolate and chai tea, anyone?