My friend Ann Shackelford lives in Montrose, Arkansas - a speck on the map surrounded by cotton fields.
She is 15 miles as the crow flies from the Mississippi River, 13 miles from a gallon of milk, 145 miles from a regional airport and 60 miles from her job as Director of Development at the world-famous B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi.
Like many folks in the rural communities of the Mississippi and Arkansas deltas, Ann spends a good bit of her life in her car. She thinks nothing of driving miles and miles across the flat farm land for a party, a cultural event or even our girls’ night out get-togethers. Her car functions as transportation, closet, and refrigerator. She keeps a “cold bag” handy so she can hit specialty food markets in larger towns, a pair of black heels because “you just never know”, and an overnight bag when the late night drive to Montrose is one glass of wine too far.
Despite her time on the road, Ann always manages to show up for a gathering with a hostess gift or food in hand. Her friends long ago determined that she does it just to make the rest of us look like the slackers we are.
For one dinner party she arrived – after driving two hours - with a shoe box containing creamy chocolate pots de crème. They were DIVINE. I had to beg, plead and threaten blackmail to get the recipe –her mother’s - that she claimed to be so easy she was embarrassed to share it.
And she was right. It’s just that easy…but unlike Ann, I pass it on to you without a hint of embarrassment. If you don’t have special pot au crème dishes don’t worry. A demitasse or small custard cup will do nicely. The dessert is very rich, so small is good. You’ll be the marvel of your next dinner party but sh-h-h-h….don’t tell them how easy it is. It’s OUR secret.
Ann Shackelford's Easy Chocolate Pots de Crème
Pot de Crème - (pronounced poh duh KREHM)
French for “pot of cream,” this dessert consists of a creamy-rich custard prepared and served in tiny (about 3-ounce) pot-shaped cups. Though the classic flavoring is vanilla, pot de crème comes in many variations including chocolate and coffee.
From Food Lover’s Companion by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
(Use 8 oz. good chocolate, chopped up, if you can get your hands on it. But Ann swears it’s good with just regular old chocolate chips.)
2 tablespoons sugar
¾ cup whole milk (Ann sometimes slips in a little cream, but even low fat milk works fine)
Heat milk till its just about to come to a boil. Place milk and remaining ingredients in a blender and blend at low speed for one minute. Pour into pot de crème dishes, small ramekins or demitasse cups. Chill several hours.
To serve, top with a dollop of whipped cream or sour cream (it’s delicious – really!!!). For a special touch, grate chocolate on top of cream.
Serves 4-6 depending on size of containers