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18th Century Chocolate Cream

A rich chocolate treat that checks off all of the boxes.

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Chocolate. It needs both little and every bit of explanation. Chocolate is a crave-able, rich, but sweet treat that has had us swooning for centuries. Nowadays, chocolate is an easy add-in to cookies, brownies, and cakes, but back hundreds of years ago, it had a different sort of standing as a medicinal adult beverage of the wealthy upper classes. We’ve all heard the history that chocolate was primarily consumed as a drink, however, there was also a semi-solid, called Chocolate Cream.

The name 18th Century Chocolate Cream is vague, but it’s truly a vague, undefinable dessert — sort of a drink, but also sort of a ganache, and sort of a mousse as well. This thick, spoonable chocolate treat is as smooth as a mousse, as well as richly satisfying like a chocolate truffle, the best of both worlds in my book.

For the longest time, chocolate was primarily a novelty among the Spanish, who brought the cocoa bean to Europe from their colonized territories in the Americas. Yet, after the other Europeans saw the Spanish chocolate beverage, the demand for chocolate increased among the wealthy. Cocoa was used alongside pharmaceutical treatments, viewing the processed bean as a medical item. However, by the 18th century, the European royalty had their own chocolatiers to work with the substance to be enjoyed alongside or independent from medicine.

Today, we may not get a lot of health benefits from chocolate, but we certainly get a mental release from eating it! 18th Century Chocolate Cream seems to be a predecessor to the modern version of pot de creme, the main difference seems to be the amount of egg yolks. In the 18th century, some recipes indicated that you’d drink this cream alongside whipped egg whites, but here we’re gonna eat our chocolate.

The ingredient list in unassuming and is easy to assemble. There’s no need for fancy chocolate either. I simply used chocolate chips.

Start off by combining your whole milk, heavy cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Stir frequently until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer and then starts to thicken.

Add in the chocolate chips and whisk to bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, let the mixture cool slightly for a minute or so, and then put the pot back on the heat to bring to a simmer (yet again). This process sounds weird, cumbersome, and annoying, but this is the way to get the mixture to thicken. Just adding the chocolate to the thickened mixture would only make a soft sauce-like texture.

If your mixture starts to look grainy, remove from the heat and add in one to three tablespoons of heavy cream. Adding cream will fix the broken chocolate and return it to a smooth velvety texture.

Once you’ve done the simmer and rest process five times, remove from the heat, whisk in vanilla, and then strain the mixture.

To be fancy, portion the mixture into small bowls or glasses and place in the refrigerator to chill.

A brief rest in the refrigerator sets up the chocolate cream, creating a rich texture.

It’s like eating the center of a chocolate cream or truffle. 18th Century Chocolate Cream is rich but then elegantly melts away, just in time for another spoonful.

Yield(s): Serves 4

10m prep time

45m cook time

2h inactive

Rated 5.0 out of 5
Rated by 4 reviewers

Allergens: Milk, Eggs

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you're making mealtime meaningful.
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  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream, (if needed) an additional 1 to 3 tablespoons
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whipped cream (for garnish)
  1. In a large saucepan set over medium heat, combine milk, 1 cup heavy cream, sugar, and egg yolks and bring to a simmer.
  2. Simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, whisking continuously.
  3. The mixture will gradually thicken slightly and once thickened add in the chocolate.
  4. Whisking continuously, bring the mixture back to a rapid simmer, then remove from the heat and rest for 3 minutes. Repeat this process of bringing to a simmer and removing from the heat 4 more times (5 times in total). If the chocolate seizes and becomes lumpy and oily, run the mixture through a sieve and whisk in 1 to 3 tablespoons of heavy cream. Once simmered 5 times, strain into a heat safe bowl and whisk in vanilla extract.
  5. Portion the mixture into individual glasses or cups and refrigerate until cool, about 1 to 2 hours.
  6. Serve with whipped cream and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from Tasting History With Max Miller.