Chocolate rosemary cream satisfies all my sweet cravings. It’s rich with dark cocoa flavors and unctuous like a barely melted chocolate bar. Let a spoonful rest on your tongue and the mild acidity and fragrant rosemary notes come through. With everyone thinking about chocolate for Valentine’s Day, I thought this might be the moment to make it again.

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This is neither my invention nor something new because the recipe is over 200 years old.  When we had our restaurant, not quite 200 years ago, we featured fresh rosemary in a signature lamb dish.

The use of it in a dessert drew me to a recipe called Chocolate Cream created by Hannah Glasse, author of two of Britain’s revered cookbooks published in 1800.  We served the dense pudding at Restaurant du Village for many years. It’s one of the desserts people still remember.

Today, confectioners flavor chocolate with everything from chili flakes to foie gras. (We consider this a break from classic combinations of cacao and coffee or orange rind.)  But unexpected chocolate flavor combinations are nothing new as this recipe proves.

The plain language of the original recipe, posted below, stuck me too. More than two centuries after it was published, the recipe is clear and useable. The straightforward commands – take a quart of cream and a pint of wine, and a little juice of lemon – inspire confidence.  The reader says “I can do this.” But it does leave some things up to the reader’s judgement. “Sweeten it well…grate some chocolate,” she wrote.

Chocolate Cream original recipe Hannah Glasse

 

I originally found the recipe in Anne Willan’s 1977 book Great Cooks and Their Recipes From Taillevent to Escoffier.  Willan adapted this recipe and dozens more for her book. (Founder of the LaVarenne Cooking School in Paris, Willan also owns a massive collection of historic cook books, source for her inspiration.)

To make the cream, I use heavy cream and a dry Riesling wine from Château St Michelle. The chocolate comes from Cacao Barry, extra-bitter Guayaquil 64% cocoa solids.  Looking at my notes from restaurant days, I realized that some tweaks were needed because today I use less sugar in my cooking.  The quantity of cocoa solids impacts how much you’ll need to use. I wrote this recipe for a quality chocolate such as Callebaut, Cocoa Barry or Valrhona. Save the Hershey’s chips for cookies because it will lack flavor.  Be prepared to add a little more (or less) accordingly.

There are few special techniques. Do use a heavy saucepan to keep the mixture from scalding. Whisk the cream constantly while it boils and thickens. You can strain out the rosemary or pick it out with tongs, tweezers of your fingers.  Use a beaker with a pouring spout to evenly divide the cream between serving glasses or ramekins.  It’s best served well chilled when it thickens into a dense pudding.

Our rosemary bush gifted us with blossom this week, perfect timing for the garnish shows in the photos. (I long for a hedge of rosemary on which  to dry my linens.)  The Spode cup and background are contemporaneous with Mrs. Glasse.

Sunday February 11, 2018 is Chocolate Day in Chester, Connecticut. From 11 Am – 2 PM, I’ll be offering samples of this Chocolate Rosemary Cream at the Lori Warner Gallery in town.  Come say hello because it’s always a fun to to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Side Trip

Take a look at an original copy of Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy in this short video from Scott Schlib, an antiquarian book dealer in Columbus, Missouri. Schlib reads from the book and shows pages of the original text.

Chocolate Rosemary Cream

Yield: 8-10 Servings

Chocolate Rosemary Cream

Adapted from Anne Willan’s 1977 book Great Cooks and Their Recipes From Taillevent to Escoffier. Culinary educator and cookbook author extraordinaire, Willan adapted the recipe from Hannah Glass and Maria William, The Complete Confectioner: Or, Housekeeper’s Guide: to a Simple Speedy Method of Understanding the whole Art of Confectionery, West and Hughes, London, 1800.

Ingredients

1/3 cup (approximately 2 ounces) sugar
3 fluid ounces dry Riesling wine
Juice ½ lemon
1 cup heavy cream
A large sprig of fresh rosemary
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Directions

  1. Pour the sugar into a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Stir in the wine and lemon juice. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Add the cream, which will thicken the mixture and start to bubble on the surface.
  2. Add the rosemary and chocolate, heat stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens slightly, for approximately 5 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary. Divide the chocolate cream evenly between serving glasses or small ramekins. Chill the chocolate cream before serving.