Sweet Potato-Chocolate Pot de Creme, Sea Island Benne Brittle, Whipped Creme Fraiche

We’re jumping the gun on the fall season here just a bit, but with the end of our successful run with the Bourbon Chocolate Pie for the James Beard Foundation’s scholarship drive on Labor Day, the time seems right for a new chocolate dessert and I’ve had this one in mind all summer.

It’s not a common pairing, but sweet potatoes are awesome with chocolate. I’ve long wanted to do a pot de creme, and since I play with pumpkin and sweet potato fudge recipes every year I thought why not do so with ganache? We make a sweet potato ganache by baking the sweet potatoes (organic Mississippi sweets now, Genesis Growers soon) and pureeing them with a thick custard base and butter, seasoned with cayenne, ginger, and allspice. While hot it’s piped into tart molds and refrigerated to set before adding the chocolate layer. The chocolate layer is comprised of a stovetop pot de creme preparation, where the custard is cooked over a double boiler to set as it chills, rather than baking to set. This yields the creamiest texture possible. We use Chocovic bittersweet and spike it with bourbon and additional cocoa, and mellow it out with the addition of some butter. Once the cream and egg custard is cooked, the chocolate and butter are slowly melted in so the chocolate maintains its temper (don’t want to tick off the chocolate, now! haha) and then the mixture is carefully piped over the sweet potato ganache and allowed to set.

For service, we pulverize sea island benne brittle for its awesome nutty flavor, caramel notes from the sugars, and fine crunch. We use antebellum ca. 1800 heirloom sea island benne from Anson Mills, it’s low oil, high flavor, and as always we’re conscious of saving our heritage seeds for future generations, so we love using heirloom crops like this one. The garnish is whipped creme fraiche we make at home from Kilgus cream, plus fresh raspberries for now, they should be available locally for a few more weeks and the fall raspberries are the sweetest and best for eating fresh. They are so freaking good right now!

Pairing: Rye neat, or perhaps with a single ice cube.