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Recipes and Stories

2 April 2015: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter Dinner III

Dean’s Blender Pots De Crème, here garnished with whipped cream, mint, and, because it was flavored with Grand Marnier, candied orange peel

If you’ve planned out your menu with some forethought for things that not only can but should be made in advance, and have stocked your refrigerator and pantry with all the ingredients except the really fragile perishables (that is, asparagus and herbs), you’re almost home free.

If you didn’t make the soup yesterday, it can be made today or any time between now and Saturday evening. So can most desserts. There are a few delicate mousses can’t be made that far ahead, and but even a cake should be safe to make today without risk of having it go stale. My menu this (and every year) includes my late friend Dean Owens’ simple Blender Pots De Crème, which can be made as much as four days ahead without suffering.

Since this is also my only day at home for the rest of the week, I’ll completely make the soup and dessert today, and do as much back-prep as possible: slice onions for the potato gratin, butterfly the lamb and get it ready for the marinade, and so forth, so that finishing everything on Saturday evening after a full day at work won’t be such a daunting task.

If you’re so inclined to make your own dinner rolls, this is a good day to make, par-bake, and freeze them.

If you’ve not already done so, check the table linens, get out and inspect the good china, and make sure the crystal and silver are polished. (I don’t care how “trendy” tarnished silver is supposed to be: it’s stupid and doesn’t look hip, but dirty and unappetizing. I’ll be glad when this ridiculous trend is over.)

Now, to the job at hand:

Dean’s Blender Pots De Crème

These sumptuous, drop-dead-easy pots de crème were a specialty of the late Dean Owens, who was one of Savannah’s great wits and hosts, and who often let me share his wit, wisdom, and table.

This is a very rich custard—almost like a chocolate truffle in a cup, so serve it after a meal that is not too heavy. If you want to go for a little child-hood nostalgia, garnish them with jelly beans.

Serves 6

6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips or chopped bits
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 scant cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon, white crème de menthe, orange liqueur, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 teaspoons bourbon
1 cup whipping cream, whipped to soft peaks without sugar
Mint sprigs and/or candied violet or rose petals

1. Put the chocolate, a small pinch of salt, and sugar in a blender and blend at a moderately high speed until it’s ground fine. Add the egg and blend for 20 seconds, or until smooth.

2. Scald the cream until it is almost boiling. Take the center section out of the blender lid. Turn on the blender and slowly add the cream through the opening. Turn off the machine, scrape down the sides, and pulse until smooth. Add the flavoring and pulse to blend.

3. Divide the custard evenly among 6 pots de crème or demitasse cups. Cover and chill until firm, about 2 hours. They may be served plain or garnished with unsweetened whipped cream, mint, and/or candied violets or rose petals.

Recipe from The Savannah Cookbook, copyright © 2008 by Damon Lee Fowler, all rights reserved

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