I usually measure the popularity of a cookbook in my collection by how dirty it gets. How many pages are sticking together with melted chocolate? How many times can I open the pages and flour comes trickling out onto my clean floor (real life!)? If the book is pretty crinkled and has lots of ingredients leftover in the crevices, it’s deemed a favorite and a success. One of my favorite cookbooks is the Williams Sonoma Baking cookbook. I got this thick cookbook a few years ago (back in college maybe), when I just started to discover that baking was a.) a huge passion of mine and b.) the way to most people’s hearts. I remember setting a goal a few years ago that I would bake every single dish out of the book, ranging from Pain Au Chocolat to Chocolate Souffle. I didn’t quite achieve the goal, but I came awful close before switching over to a plant based diet. This switch meant I had to switch how I approached my favorite cookbook. No longer could I throw a few sticks of butter in the the mixer and call it a day, I had to think out and plan how I would execute each recipe. Some might see this as a pain, another obstacle, but I see it as a challenge I will happily accept. One of my main goals is to show people that vegan baking can be so delicious, easy, and can keep up with the fancy pastries and desserts you would spot on a restaurant menu. I don’t want the only dessert in my repertoire to be confined to a few cookies and a couple of vegan cakes, I want to still enjoy the fancy pants desserts, just like the rest of them!
These Pots de Creme are just like a fancy chocolate pudding, except they are baked first, then cooled. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but it allows the chocolate mixture to be smooth creamy, and hold up to room temperature for just a bit longer. The other obstacle I ran into with this recipe (and many others that I have on the ‘to veganize’ list), is that the most common substitute would be a full fat coconut milk, which is usually fine, but there are times I just want to enjoy a chocolate dessert without the heaviness of full cream. The solution: flax or chia seed eggs. A fla or chia seed egg provides enough ‘gel’ for the creme to hold together, without compromising the creamy texture. If desired, you could use coconut milk in place of almond milk, just to give a bit more richness. I also topped my pots de creme with whipped coconut cream, just for a little something extra on top, but these are just as good, with or without the topping! I have quite a few more recipes to go, but I’m still working my way through vegan-izing my favorite cookbook.
- 2 1/2 cups almond milk
- 6 ounces dark chocolate (chopped)
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder
- 2 1/2 tablespoons ground chia or flax seeds
- 8 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease 6 ramekins and set on a cookie sheet, set aside.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the ground chia or flax seeds and 8 tablespoons of water. Set aside to let the mixture gel.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the almond milk, espresso powder, vanilla and chocolate, stirring constantly until chocolate is melted, about 5-7 minutes, depending on how large the chocolate is chopped.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the melted chocolate mixture and the chia/flax seed mixture, whisk briskly until combined throughout. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared ramekins.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until tops are slightly bubbling. The mixture will still be fairly liquid. Allow ramekins to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours before serving. Top with a dollop of whipped coconut cream and grated chocolate.