At the soon-to-open elm in New Canaan, Connecticut, both chef Brian Lewis and pastry chef Caryn Stabinsky approach classic dishes with a modern eye. Stabinsky's take on chocolate pots de crème balances the custard's intense richness with a glasslike panel of crackly caramelized sugar on top. Although Stabinsky recommends any small container as a serving vessel, we prefer the shallower variety, allowing for an ample crunch-to-crème ratio.
Chocolate Pots de CremeRecipe adapted from Caryn Stabinsky, elm, New Canaan, CT
Yield: Four 4-ounce ramekins
Cook Time: 5 minutes (plus overnight refrigeration)
1 cup coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
½ vanilla bean pod, split and scraped
¼ cup hot water or coffee
Pinch kosher salt
1. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, combine the cream, ¼ cup of the sugar and the vanilla-bean pod and seeds and bring to a rapid boil.
3. Slowly pour the hot-cream mixture into the eggs, whisking to combine. Over the bowl of chocolate, strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve (discard the vanilla pod). Gently whisk in the water and salt until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into four 4-ounce ramekins and refrigerate overnight. To serve, sprinkle each pots de crème with 1 tablespoon of the remaining granulated sugar and use a torch to caramelize the sugar. Serve immediately. (If you don't have a kitchen torch, use the broiler: Adjust the oven rack to the highest position and heat the broiler to high. Place the sugar-sprinkled pots de crème on a rimmed sheet pan and set under the broiler until the sugar is browned, turning the sheet pan midway through broiling. Note: Keep an eye on the pots de crème as the sugar can burn quickly.)