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Chocolate Custards

Chocolate Custards

I have an easy time using up extra egg whites when I have them because I have a general affinity for egg white heavy desserts (not to mention high protein egg white omeletes for breakfast!). Angel food cakes, pavlova, macaroons… the list goes on. I have a much harder time using up egg yolks, especially when I have a lot of them to contend with. Egg breads, like challah and hawaiian bread, are good vehicles for using them up. Custards and puddings are also good choices for leftover yolks and, faced with 6 leftover yolks in the fridge, this is the route I decided to take them down.

Egg yolks add a wonderfully creamy and rich texture to these types of desserts, but they also keep them feeling light and delicate. For me, heavy cream can be too heavy in most desserts; unctuousness, while prized by some, is not something I like to have in my desserts. So, for these chocolate custards, I opted to use more egg yolks than most similar recipes call for and to use milk, instead of cream.

The method is simple: melt the chocolate into the milk, whisk into egg yolks and sugar, then pour into ramekins to bake. The only slightly tricky step is pouring the hot milk into the yolks. You must whisk constantly and pour slowly avoid cooking the yolks with the hot liquid. Straining this mixture before pouring the custard it into the ramekins will ensure that you don’t get any lumps in the finished product. You’ll notice that my custards are darker on top than they are at the center. This is because small bits of chocolate will come together and rise to the top during baking, forming a kind of “crust” of chocolate. If this happens, don’t worry. Just think of it as another layer of flavor (more chocolate? who would argue with that!) and a little bit of a presentational flair.

The egg yolk-milk based custard turned out wonderfully. The finished desserts had the deep chocolate flavor of chocolate pudding, but a much lighter mouthfeel. Instead of seeming rich and heavy, the custard felt silky and smooth on the tongue. Refrigerate the custards before serving. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several days.

Chocolate Custards
2 cups milk (whole or low fat)
3.5 ounces good quality dark chocolate
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
boiling water, for water bath

Preheat oven to 300F. Arrange six 8-oz. ramekins in a deep baking dish (9×13″ works well) and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring milk almost to a simmer over medium heat. When steam starts to rise from the milk, whisk in chocolate until smooth. Remove from heat.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large heat-resistant bowl until smooth. Very gradually stream in chocolate milk mixture, whisking constantly, until all of it has been incorporated in with the eggs. Pour mixture through a strainer into a large measuring cup (or bowl, but a container with a spout is preferable), then pour into ramekins, filling them as evenly as possible.
Meanwhile, bring some water to a boil.
Place the baking dish with filled ramekins into the oven and pour boiling water into the dish, so that the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until custards are set and jiggle only slightly when the pan is tapped.
Remove ramekins from water bath and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. Chill in refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours before serving.
Custards can be made a day ahead.

Serves 6.

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  • Delicious Chroncles
    August 11, 2008

    i love chocolate custards… i’ve only done them at school… i’ve yet to do one at home!!

  • Mary (Mary's Nest)
    August 12, 2008

    This looks very good and I really like the list of ingredients. Very simple – basic. Something that would be easy to whip together for a weeknight supper dessert.

    Thank you,


  • Pamela M
    August 12, 2008

    This looks delicious, Nic! I just have one question, though. I don’t normally keep cow’s milk around the house. I made a flan recently, and though I was warned not to use non-dairy because it would cause a soft-set consistency, I used vanilla soymilk anyway. As warned, it was VERY soft-set, and I was wondering if you think the same would happen if I tried to use soymilk in these custards.

  • Patricia Scarpin
    August 12, 2008

    Nic, I have the same problem – I’ve had an eye on a friand recipe, but haven’t made it yet because first I need to find out a way to use the egg yolks, too.
    Tks for the inspiration!

  • brilynn
    August 12, 2008

    Can we trade? I always have leftover eggwhites that I don’t know what to do with and not enough egg yolks.

  • Nicole
    August 12, 2008

    Pamela – The custards might be slightly softer set (although I don’t usually have pudding/custard problems with soy milk), but since they’re contained in the ramekin, it’s not really going to be a problem. Most flans have to be turned out of their baking dish for serving, and that presentation is what is likely to be jeopardized if the custard has a slightly softer consistency.

  • Anonymous
    December 28, 2008

    Hi Nicole do u think this could replace the egg custard in the pastel de nata?

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