Chocolate Pudding/Chocolate Pot De Creme
7 oz. (200 grams) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 cups (500 milliliters) half-and-half
3 Tbsp. (45 grams) sugar
1 tsp. instant espresso or coffee powder (optional)
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (175 Celsius). Set six 4- to 6-ounce (125- to 180-milliliter) ramekins or custard cups in a roasting pan or deep baking dish.
Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. In a medium saucepan, heat the half-and-half, sugar, instant espresso or coffee powder, if using, and salt until quite hot, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour the hot half-and-half mixture over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Let cool until tepid, then whisk in the egg yolks and the vanilla. (If the mixture looks at all grainy, whisk well or purée in a blender until smooth.)
Transfer the custard mixture to a large measuring cup or pitcher and divide evenly among the ramekins.
Fill the roasting pan or baking dish with warm water to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake until the perimeters of the custards are just set and the centers are still slightly jiggly, about 35 minutes.
Transfer the custards from the water bath to a wire rack and let cool.
Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, garnished with small mounds of whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
Storage: The custard mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before baking. Once baked, the custards can be chilled for up to 2 days (although they’re much better when they haven’t been refrigerated). Bring them to room temperature before serving.