Generally, I'm not a massive dessert person. By the end of a meal - particularly a rich and filling one, I'd rather opt for a good coffee and maybe a small square of chocolate for a mini, sweet taster. Hence the inspiration for these Mochaccino Pots as an alternative to round off a delicious meal. These pots have a mocha flavoured smooth custard (it's definitely more of a custard than a mousse) and are topped with a swirl of whipped cream or crème fraîche. A dusting of cocoa is the final flourish.
The chocolate/coffee part can be prepared a day or two in advance and will sit nicely in the fridge until you're ready to eat it.
There's no denying it, this is a rich dessert but it also lends itself to being served in teeny, tiny portions so that works. I chose little glasses for mine so that you can really see the effect of a frothy mocha coffee but you could also try espresso cups too. Just keep it small - small and perfectly formed. The desserts in the photos are made using all 70% dark chocolate, but if you prefer things a little lighter and a tad sweeter you could swap in some milk chocolate to taste. I rather like it half and half.
It's true that the slightly sweetened cream looks a whole lot better if you whip it just before you're going to use it. Plus, as with all cream whipping, you need to whip it the right amount - not too much, not too little. It's not an enormous deal but perhaps if you could avoid it all together ...? One less thing to think about is always good, particularly if you've got guests for dinner or lots of other things to be busy with.
So, what can you do if you’d rather not be fussed with whipping the cream?
Well, there is an alternative … The last time I made these Mochaccino Pots, I made a whole pile of them - 12 I think - and by the time I came to the last couple, I'd run out of cream to put on the top. Gggrrrrr. But I did have a pot of crème fraîche (it's a staple in our house due to the family fondness for Pesto Pasta) so I thought I'd try it as a replacement.
I gave it a good stir so that its consistency was a little looser (and more akin to whipped cream) and I chose to miss out the icing sugar - with or without is fine). By the way, I used about 50g (2oz) of crème fraîche per pot ... you could be a bit more generous if you fancy. And the result? Completely gorgeous, utterly easy and totally better than the cream option. The slight sharpness of the crème fraîche really balances the sweetness of the chocolate and removing the need for last-minute whipping of the cream gets a huge thumbs up from me. I'll be making these Mochaccino Pots like this from now on.
So why are these Mochaccino Pots the no-fuss dessert that you’ve been looking for?
- You can do the preparation in advance – the chocolate/coffee part a day or two in advance and the cream part earlier on the day when you’d like to serve them. That kind of minimum last-minute attention is a winner.
- You can adjust how dark and rich the chocolate element is by playing with the proportions of dark and milk chocolate – half and half seems to work well for a sweeter tooth or a younger palate.
- They are individually portioned (I’m a sucker for that) which makes them much more straightforward to serve when it’s late and you’re losing the will.
- Serving them individually also means that you don’t get that ugly ‘large-serving-bowl-messy-trifle-type-situation’ which you do after serving the first couple of people from a single serving dish.
- They are whimsical but there’s also a decadence and an elegance to them.
- High impact, low effort – and you know that I’m a big fan of that.
- The leftovers will behave beautifully in the fridge for a couple of days and make for a gorgeous treat from the fridge the next day – I speak from experience!
And combining coffee and dessert like this at the end of a meal - that really is gorgeous food, no fuss ...