I can tell you when summer ended for me this year. It was Friday 5th August. We'd had a couple of perfect days. The sort of baking heat that warms you to the very bone under azure skies. Inconsequential puffs of cloud and gone as quickly as they came. But that evening, the light changed. It was like a bruise; tones of yellowy-grey. Someone had licked a switch somewhere. Overnight, the storm clouds gathered and we woke up to pouring rain.
I could feel then that summer had ended. There might still be hot days stretching into September but it wouldn't be summer anymore.
It was that night that I started to think about this recipe. Autumn has its own flavours; warm and spicy, rich and comforting.
At this time of year, when I'd rather enjoy the last few hours of daylight than slave over my oven and when the weather can still surprise you with sticky and humid days, this is a perfect recipe. It can be made in advance and then chilled until required.
The rich chocolate ganache has that elusive combination of sweet and salty and the red wine whipped cream brings a taste of Autumn's spices. The grated chocolate is purely for effect but the orange zest is essential in stopping the richness of the other ingredients from becoming overpowering.
If, like me, you are always searching for that sweet/salty hit, head over to Lauren's blog, Keep it Sweet, where she's hosting a blog party celebrating the very combination that we all love so much.
Salted chocolate pots with red wine cream (makes 6)
For the chocolate pots
5 egg yolks
3 1/2 tbsp caster sugar
350ml double cream
3 1/2 tbsp whole milk
1 split vanilla bean (I actually used 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste but extract would also be fine)
225g 70% chocolate, broken into pieces.
1 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
For the red wine cream
120ml double cream
25g granulated sugar
20ml red wine
1. Preheat the oven to 135C/250F.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. In a saucepan, heat the cream, milk and vanilla until the point of simmering and remove it from the heat. Add the chocolate to the hot liquid mixture and stir until all the chocolate has melted.
4. Add a spoonful of the chocolate mixture to the eggs and whisk quickly (this tempers avoids scrambling by bringing the temperature of the eggs up). Slowly add the rest of the chocolate mixture and salt, whisking as you go. Pour into ramekins and cover with cling film.
5. Place the ramekins in a large baking dish and fill the dish with water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pots are wobbly but set. Chill in the fridge until you're ready to eat.
6. For the cream, beat the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Add the wine and continue to beat until firm peaks form.
7. Top each chilled chocolate pot with a spoonful of cream and some shaved chocolate and orange zest.