This chocolate cream is smooth, rich, chocolaty, and naturally sweetened with dates. It’s the perfect dessert for special occasions like Valentine’s Day or just to have on hand throughout the week for after-dinner treats. It’s vegan (dairy-free, egg-free), grain-free (gluten-free), soy-free, nut-free, and refined sugar-free.
Air bubbles in chocolate, be it tempered chocolate, chocolate cream, ganache, or even icing, are very common. They are problematic because they leave tiny bumps on the surface of whatever you’re making, explode out of your piping tip, or disrupt a line of icing you’re piping. All in all, they can be annoying.
Generally speaking, there is an easy way to get around this – slow down the agitation and allow the trapped air to be released. However, it’s not as straightforward in this chocolate cream recipe because you need a blender to turn the dates into a smooth paste and mix all the ingredients together. As you would suspect, using a blender means a lot of agitation and a lot of unappealing air bubbles.
Fortunately, there are a few ways to get around this:
- Puree the dates first and then slowly add all the other ingredients. You will get more bubbles if you use a whisk rather than a spatula. Move the spatula in small circles around the parameter of the bowl, moving the bowl as you go. The chocolate cream will start slowly coming together.
- If you make the entire chocolate cream in a blender (which is what I tend to do), let it sit for a few minutes before pouring it into individual serving bowls. This will allow the air bubbles to disappear.
- After you pour the chocolate cream into serving bowls, make sure to tap the bowls on the counter multiple times. The vibration will allow the air bubbles to come to the surface and burst. If this doesn’t initially work, tap more, using more force in the tapping.
- If you’re a professional cook, you’ve probably heard of vibrating tables, which are specifically designed to eliminate air bubbles from chocolates. They are especially handy for molded, filled chocolates to ensure there is no air space between the bottom chocolate and the filling. However, such a table is also very effective for eliminating air bubbles from chocolate cream, ganache, or even icing. Do you need to order one for this recipe? Absolutely not! But if you have one, use it.
Tips for Making Chocolate Cream
This chocolate cream recipe is very similar to French Pot de Crème, a delicious French dessert custard. It smells, tastes, and looks like chocolate, but doesn’t completely solidify even when refrigerated. In fact, it’s like a richer, silkier, and more luscious version of American chocolate pudding.
The key ingredients for chocolate cream are:
- Cacao powder: chocolate has two main components – cacao solids (where the flavor comes from) and cacao butter (where the texture comes from). Cacao powder contains very little cacao butter (generally 10-12 %); it’s mainly cocoa solids, so it has an intense chocolate flavor.
- Cacao butter: the function of cacao butter in chocolate is to enhance texture and create that melt-in-your-mouth quality. It has a mildly sweet flavor and a strong aroma that is reminiscent of chocolate. While you can substitute coconut oil for cacao butter in this recipe, cacao butter is far superior.
- Medjool dates: dates perform two functions in this recipe – they sweeten and thicken the chocolate cream. There are a few different types of dates, so if you have the option, use Medjool dates. Compared to other types of dates, Medjool dates are fresh fruit and blend easily into a smooth paste. However, because they are so moist and juicy, they also cause the cacao butter to seize. This is where coconut milk comes in.
- Coconut milk: the right amount of liquid loosens the seized chocolate mixture, and transforms it into a silky smooth cream. In other words, chocolate is incompatible with small amounts of liquid but can get on famously with large quantities of it. While you can’t use seized chocolate for tempering, it’s great in creams, sauces, and any other desserts that call for melting chocolate with a greater quantity of liquid.
- Vanilla extract: chocolate and vanilla, while different, go together so naturally that they complement each other in the best way. Even the most decadent pure chocolate recipes often include vanilla extract to enhance the flavor.
- Salt: in addition to being a general flavor amplifier, salt also enhances sweetness. If you taste two chocolate creams that are the same in every way except that one contains a bit of sea salt and the other none, the one with salt will taste sweeter. So, a pinch of sea salt is a must in this recipe.
How to Make Chocolate Cream
- Melt the cacao butter. Cacao butter is too hard to use in its solid state, so it needs to be melted first. To speed up the melt time, you can cut it, grate it, or put it through a food processor fitted with a coarse shredder disc. If you have a lot of cacao butter, the food processor method is the fastest. Simply load the food processor chute with chunks of cacao butter, press the plunger down, and you will have shredded cacao butter in no time.
- Blend. As I already mentioned, I tend to make the entire chocolate cream recipe in a high-speed blender. The only problem with this technique is air bubbles, which can leave tiny bumps on the surface of the chocolate cream. To deal with the air bubbles, see the tips above.
- Chill. Transfer the chocolate cream to individual serving bowls. Tap each serving bowl against the counter a few times to allow any remaining air bubbles to come to the surface and burst. If this doesn’t initially work, tap more, using more force in the tapping. Refrigerate until thickened, 1-2 hours.
How to Serve Chocolate Cream
Although this chocolate cream is delicious on its own, there are many wonderful variations too. Here are a few ideas:
- Add half a teaspoon of instant espresso powder to the mixture right before blending for Café Mocha Pots de Crème.
- Infuse the coconut milk with ancho chilies for a spicier version.
- Drizzle each dessert with Irish cream (or any cream liquor of your choice) to add a distinctive flavor.
- Garnish the chocolate cream with a dollop of coconut whipped cream and shaved chocolate right before serving.
This dessert is quite rich, so I recommend small servings.
More Chocolate Recipes
There’s no such thing as too much chocolate! On this blog, you can find recipes that not only incorporate chocolate but also recipes that are just that – chocolate. If you love chocolate, try any of the recipes below.
- Chocolate cheesecake: this dessert is everything you want in a chocolate cheesecake – rich and creamy, with a melt-in-your-mouth texture.
- Chocolate tart: decadent, silky smooth, and chocolaty is the best way to describe this simple yet delicious chocolate tart. It has a soft, chewy crust and a smooth Nutella filling.
- Brownies: after making these rich, chewy, fudgy brownies topped with a thick chocolate layer, you’ll never even think about baking brownies again. Why would you?
- Dark chocolate bar: have you ever wondered how to make chocolate at home? Raw (= from unroasted cacao beans), tempered (= shiny, smooth, with a snap when you bite into it), dark (75%) chocolate entirely from scratch. This 3-ingredient dark chocolate recipe is it!
- Melt the cacao butter. Add the cacao butter to a small saucepan and warm it over low heat to melt.
- Blend. Add all the ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
- Chill. Transfer the chocolate cream into individual serving bowls. Tap each serving bowl against the counter a few times to allow the air bubbles to come to the surface and burst. If this doesn’t initially work, tap more, using more force in the tapping. Refrigerate until thickened, 1-2 hours.
- Serve. Top with coconut whipped and shaved chocolate (optional). Serve chilled.
- Store. Leftover chocolate cream keeps well, covered, in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.