I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder for the intense chocolate flavor it brings to the table. Ditto valrhona 70% unsweetened chocolate. Its about intense chocolate balanced with salty crunchy pretzels.
Also to turn up the flavors a notch, I add a generous dollop of creme fraiche to the whipped cream layer. This bit of tart tames down the sweetness of the cream, again all working towards balance in the final dessert. Sour cream would sorta work as a substitute, but really creme fraiche is in stores all over now so spring for it instead.
Also, instead of layering it in a giant trifle bowl, I do it in ramekins. This way I have portion control and make certain everyone gets a nice bit with each spoonful.
Death by Chocolate V2.0
- 2 c Heavy Cream
- 1/4 c Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
- 3/4 c sugar
- 3 T corn starch
- 1 1/2 c whole milk
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 t salt
- 1 t vanilla
- 8 oz unsweetened chocolate - finely chopped
Whipped Cream layer
- 2 c heavy whipping cream
- 1 c creme fraiche
- 1/2 c confectioners sugar
- 1 T pure vanilla
- 2 c crushed pretzels
- 3 T butter, melted
- 1 T sugar
- 1 C Heath Toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350F
Place 8, 8 oz ramekins on a baking sheet
Reserve 1/2 c crushed pretzels for layering later.
Place 1 1/2 c crushed pretzels, sugar and melted butter in a mixing bowl an toss until combined and resembles wet sand. Divide pretzel mixture between the ramekins and press in lightly with fingers. Bake 10-12 minutes until lightly browned and fragrant. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature
For the pudding layer, start by putting together the egg yolks and whole milk. Whisk until smooth and set aside.
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan whisk together salt, sugar, cornstarch and Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa powder. Add heavy cream and stir until ingredients are combined. Stir and cook over medium until it comes to a boil and starts to froth. It will coat the back of a wooden spoon. Don't over cook. Reduce heat. Slowly drizzle in 1 C of hot cream into the egg yolk mixture, taking care to whisk vigorously so the hot cream doesn't scramble the yolk mixture. Slowly pour the tempered yolk mixture into the remaining hot cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a boil and cook 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in finely chopped unsweetened chocolate until dissolved and smooth. Whisk in vanilla. Pour into heat proof bowl. Place cling film over the hot pudding mixture to prevent skin from forming. Chill several hours until set.
Chill your mixing bowl and beaters for about 30 minutes to ensure maximum fluffiness to the whipped cream layer. Assemble mixer, pour in heavy cream and creme fraiche. Whip on high until fluffy. Sprinkle on confectioners sugar and vanilla. Whip a minute or two longer until it forms soft peaks....be careful not to overbeat and turn it to butter.
Sprinkle 1/3 c toffee bits evenly between the 8 ramekins.
Divide pudding in half, and split half of it evenly between the ramekins. Divide whipped cream in half, split half of it evenly between the ramekins. Top with 1/4 c crushed pretzels divided between the ramekins. Top with 1/3 c toffee bits split among the 8 ramekins. Repeat layering order with remaining pudding, whipped cream, crushed pretzels and toffee bits.