The addition of this item to the menu for the seventh annual birthday dinner was the result of a phone call to She Who Must Be Obeyed. One of our guests, a regular attendee since the inaugural dinner, was unable to attend last year due to a family emergency. He called to assure us that he would definitely attend this year’s dinner and was looking forward to the menu “even if it didn’t include any chocolate.” Having missed out on last year’s chocolate dessert, he assumed I would be using a different flavor profile this time.
Since he enjoys a favored status as the primary contributor to the Belm Collection of Unusual Food, I decided to add a chocolate amuse to the menu. Again, I chose it from On the Line, having seen it last year and filed it away as something I wanted to try. Despite its lengthy full name – “Egg,” Milk Chocolate Pots de Crème with Caramel Foam, Maple Syrup, and Maldon Sea Salt – the recipe was mostly do-ahead steps. The most difficult part would be preparing the egg shells.
Removing just the tops of the egs while leaving the remaining shell intact with a smooth cut edge would require a piece of specialty equipment: an egg topper. The collection of Amazon reviews led me to believe it would be either the simplest or the most frustrating tool I had ever used, but my bat was on simplicity. To be safe, I bought two dozen eggs in the hope of ending up with a dozen usable shells, but went through only fifteen – a very good success ratio. I separated the contents of each egg into yolks and whites, then spent the next three hours removing the membrane from inside the shells, a process that required lots of hot water, tweezers, and rubbing with my fingertips.
Some of the yolks were used to make the milk chocolate filling, which was baked in the shells resting in an egg carton partially submerged in a water bath. Once they cooled, I stood each shell in a small dish, using a blob of cheap squeeze tube chocolate icing as an adhesive to keep the shells from tipping (idea provided by She Who).
I layered each pot with a teaspoon of dark caramel.
Just before serving, I foamed some caramel custard (made with the remaining yolks) into each shell, added a few drops of maple syrup, and finished with a few flakes of Maldon salt.
How did our guests like this extra pre-dessert bite? Let the evidence speak for itself:
That should be worth a few more contributions to the collection.