The Best Valentine's Dessert, ever

No, it really is the best. Haven’t met anyone who doesn’t adore it. Even my late mother, a fantastic cook and harsh food critic, thought this was one of the top desserts of her long 81 years.

Because it’s chocolate. It’s creamy. It’s easy enough for beginners but appears sophisticated, so experienced cooks will not be embarrased. And with no butter or cream, despite its name, it’s actually one of the healthier things you could make for you loved ones.

I have been making these for more than 15 years, as you can tell by the condition of the actual recipe below. So, I give you Mocha Pots de Creme or Chocolate Pots.

Wrinkled, splattered and well loved

1 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 1/4 cup low-fat milk

1 cup evaporated milk

4 eggs

4 egg whites

3 cups sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla

pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 325

Line a large pan with washcloths or a dish towel. You can use a broiler pan or two rectangular casseroles.

Place 12 custard cups on towels. You can also use oven-safe tea cups, such as Fiestaware.

Put cocoa in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the milks and then pour just enough of the mixture into the cocoa to make a thin, smooth paste. Pour remaining milk in and stir thorougly.

Wipe out milk bowl with a paper towel and then in it, combine eggs, egg whites, sugar, vanilla and salt. Whisk thorougly and then whisk in the cocoa mixture.

Pour mixture into the custard cups. Pull out the oven rack partially, put the pan on it and then, using a measuring cup or another cup with a lip, carefully pour warm water between the pots, up to half of the pots’ height.

Slide rack smoothly into oven and bake for 60 minutes. Remove pots from water and cool on a rack 30 minutes before serving.

The pots will puff up then deflate when you remove them from the oven. They should have a custard-like consistency, firmer than pudding but moister than brownies.

Top with whipped cream and a strawberry if you like,  but really, fripperies are not necessary.

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