You may feel that February is the month of roses, soft music, gifts of twinkling jewelry, and all things romantic, but I think of it as the month of chocolate love. There’s nothing wrong with all that other stuff, but chocolate always makes me melt. I particularly adore chocolate at the end of a meal. This affection for chocolate desserts goes back to the days before I could even imagine being able to make such a thing, in fact, before I could pull off anything but the occasional tuna fish sandwich. You see, I came into my marriage with that single ‘culinary’ skill. My mother-in-law, on the other hand, had once cooked for the Queen of England. Ahem. Talk about a challenge. The problem was that I hated cooking.
Lucky for me, I wasn’t alone. I found a cookbook that seemed to have been written for me. The late, great humorist Peg Bracken saved my bacon and possibly my marriage. I fell upon her cheating-in-the-kitchen masterpiece The I Hate to Cook Book, a small but hilarious paperback with fast and easy recipes that could fool some of the people some of the time. I was able to laugh my head off while suffering in the kitchen. Many of the recipes are dated now, but I can still fool some of those same people with variations on the originals. I credit Peg Bracken with letting me fall in love with cooking. The original books have fallen apart over the years, but I still snatch up copies at library and book sales any chance I get.
But back to my story: one of the recipes in The Appendix to the I Hate to Cook Book (yes really) is something called pot-de-chocolat, a rich confection of chocolate, cream, and rum. It was pretty snazzy when I served that after a dinner party back in the day. No one knew it had taken about two minutes to make. I sure didn’t tell them.
In a recent New York Times Magazine, Amanda Hesser did a ‘Recipes Redux’ piece on the chocolate rum mousse, giving a recipe The Times had run in 1966 when rum and chocolate desserts were new and French terms boosted a cook’s status. I prefer Peg’s recipe. I have updated the original by using dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate. It’s very easy. I imagine even on of my hopeless protagonists could make it. With a bit of luck. Here goes:
Pot-de-chocolat (6- 8 servings)
Into your blender bowl put:
1 cup of dark chocolate chips. (I used Hersey’s Chipits Special Dark, but this is me, so there are no rules)
1 ¼ cups scalded* 18 % cream. (I suppose you could fool around with the percentage of cream, but I haven’t yet)
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoons of rum (I experimented with Grand Marnier too, but the rum was better)
* Heat until just below boiling
Turn the blender on at high speed ( I don’t have to tell you to put the lid on) and blend until the racket stops. Pour it into small pretty cups – Japanese tea cups or demi-tasse. It also looks great in small liqueur glasses – all will be pretty on your table or a buffet as well.
Keep the serving dishes small because it’s rich! I even used shooters too just to see how that would turn out. It worked so well we ate those before we got to our party. Oh well.
Don’t forget to chill the desserts for at least three hours. Feel free to fancy them up with a bit of whipped cream or a raspberry or two, but I like them this way. The only decoration I use is a spoon.
May I suggest that if you are all cozied up with someone you love on February 14th, that this will make a nice contribution to the mood. If the someone is a dog or cat, you’ll have to eat the pot-de-chocolat yourself (not good for them!) and hand out dogs treats or fish snacks, whatever. But those will be the subject for another post.
Until then, thank you, Peg Bracken, for laughter, coping skills and some tasty tricks!