Stoned & Honed:

Let’s really do dessert

I think we could all use something indulgent right about now, so let’s think about dessert.

What is it about ending a meal with an extravagant sugary dish that seems to bridge the gap to the rest of your evening?

Will it be something playful and sweet? Will it be something rich and sumptuous? Will it connect you to the time of year, the place you reside or the people you are cooking for? Also, how many milligrams of THC does it have? And finally will this dessert get me laid?

(Answer key: Yes, yes, maybe, hopefully, 15 milligrams, and yes, if you play your cards right.)

I wanted to do something for my partner for her birthday this month. This recipe is one of her absolute favorites. In her words, “it’s like pudding for adults,” which was not what I was going for exactly, but I will take it.

Chocolate hazelnut Pots de crème

A pots de crème is a French custard dish that is much like a flan, crème caramel, or curd. It is a rich, silky-smooth custard that can be flavoured with a litany of different ingredients. In this case we will be incorporating chocolate and hazelnut liqueur but you can totally play with the flavours by substituting for other ingredients.

Photo credit: Nicholas Nedin

Ingredients and equipment

  • 1 ¼ cups half and half cream
  • 3 oz. bittersweet chocolate (chopped finely)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp Frangelico (this is optional, and yes, I am your 87-year-old nonna)
  • 1 pot
  • 1 large mixing bowl
  • 1 fine mesh sieve
  • 4 ramekins or oven-safe mugs
  • 1 whisk
  • 1 deep roasting pan

Directions

In a pot on low heat, bring the cream to a simmer. If there is skin forming on the top of the cream, stir gently. Turn off the heat and add the chopped bittersweet chocolate and sugar, and whisk until incorporated.

In the mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks, cocoa powder, vanilla and Frangelico, creating a paste of the four ingredients.

This next one is a very important step called tempering: take your hot cream mixture and combine it with your egg paste. The problem is that if the egg paste is heated too rapidly, it will cook the eggs and you will end up with chocolate scrambled eggs. Take a tablespoon of the cream mixture into the bowl with the egg mixture and whisk until incorporated. Do this three more times making sure the hot liquid is quickly whisked into the egg paste. Once the custard is tempered, slowly add the contents of the mixing bowl into the pot and whisk until it’s a consistent mixture.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F and arrange your ramekins in a bain-marie (see photo). Pour your hot custard through a fine mesh sieve to filter out the solids found in the chocolate and cream. These solids can give you a gritty texture in what should be a silky smooth custard.

Cook the custards in the oven in the bain marie for about 25 minutes. Check the custard by tapping the side of the ramekin with a fork. You want to see the custard jiggle slightly in the middle. If the top of the custard is set but also jiggly remove the custards from the oven and the water bath.

Allow the custards to cool for about 20 minutes at room temperature, and then cover with saran wrap and leave in the fridge for four to six hours to set.

    The bain-marie method. Photo credit: Nicholas Nedin

    Pecan brittle

    This is a super easy recipe to make a quick nut brittle. I really like this as a sweet component, and the brittle can be used as a scoop if you are so inclined. Because the custard will express the bitterness of the cocoa, this sugar bomb is a great addition to the overall dish.

    Ingredients and equipment

    • 1 cup halved pecans
    • 1 cup white sugar
    • ½ cup light corn syrup
    • 1 tbsp infused coconut oil
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tbsp kosher salt
    • 1 small saucepan
    • 1 silicone pad
    • 1 whisk

    Directions

    In the saucepan over medium heat, add your sugar, corn syrup, infused coconut oil and vanilla. Bring the sugar up to a bubble and heat until 300 degrees F, and the solution is reduced and beginning to crystallize.

    On your silicone pad, lay out the pecans, leaving space between each of them.

    Once your sugar solution hits 300 degrees F, add your baking soda and stir vigorously until incorporated.

    Slowly pour the molten sugar (which should now be getting cloudy) over the pecans on your silicone pad. Try to make sure the quickly solidifying sugar spreads out as evenly as possible. Sprinkle the brittle with kosher salt to finish.

    Allow to cool for 30 minutes (or use the freezer to expedite) and break up the brittle into bite-sized pieces.

      Berry coulis

      The coulis will add some bright acidity and some punchy red colour to an otherwise monochrome dish. Coulis is also a great use for raspberries which have passed their prime.

      Ingredients and equipment

      • 1 cup fresh raspberries
      • 1 cup white sugar
      • ½ cup water
      • 1 tbsp lemon juice
      • 1 ml THC distillate
      • 1 small saucepan
      • 1 fine sieve
      • 1 whisk
      • 1 squeeze bottle or food syringe

      Directions

      In a saucepan on medium/high heat, add your raspberries, sugar, water, lemon juice, and distillate. Cook down the contents into a paste, slowly reducing the liquid in the pot by half.

      Pour the contents of the saucepan through a fine sieve and collect the filtered contents in a squeeze bottle or container.

      Allow the coulis to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. The coulis should be about the consistency of maple syrup when cold.

        The finished product. Photo credit: Nicholas Nedin

        Putting it all together

        What I love about this recipe is that you can prepare the three different components ahead of time. On the day you serve it, it becomes more of an assembly job than a high pressure game of timing three different dishes. I personally like to use the brittle as a scoop for the custard (think haute Dunkaroos), while the raspberry coulis is more for flourishes of colour.

        One thing that can be fun and romantic is to turn plating this dish into an activity. Playing with food is something we do not do enough of and I find it can connect us back to something primal. If that's where this recipe brings you and your partner, I’ll consider it a success.

        Three recipes, three movies

        Chocolate hazelnut pots de crème: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958)

        Rich, heavy, indulgent, and full of booze are all ways to describe Alfred Hitchcock and his nearly perfect tale of twisted obsession. Starring James Stewart and Kim Novak at the heights of their powers, this slow-burning mystery is full of amazing cinematography of 1950s San Francisco.

        Pecan brittle: Midnight In The Garden of Good and Evil (1997)

        Pecans make me think of the south and the first movie that came to my mind that fits is this often overlooked Clint Eastwood film. Starring Kevin Spacey as Jim Williams, a closeted gay man accused of a horrible crime (I assure you this is not a documentary) and John Cusack as a journalist trying to unravel the crime, this sweaty panorama of secrets and lies set in Savannah, Georgia is a slow-burning thriller. Also starring a baby-faced Jude Law, and a band of character actors.

        Raspberry coulis: Suspiria (2018)

        Beyond the matching colour palate and the splatterability, this remake of the Dario Argento macabre classic goes amazingly well with our coulis. With Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton (in three different roles) and Chole Grace Moretz adding some star power to this visually arresting supernatural meditation on post-Nazi Germany. A Thom Yorke score also adds to the air of dread that will leave you grasping for your partner on the couch.