Chocolate pots de crème is a showstopper of a dessert, and when it’s made stovetop, it’s incredibly simple to make — there’s no water bath… hooray! A stovetop custard comes together in no time, and after an hour chill in the fridge, it’s ready to go. Dark chocolate custard + Grand Marnier + sea salt + homemade whipped cream — does dessert get any better?
Overhead shot of pots de creme on a board aside a spoon.

If you’ve ever made pots de crème, you’re likely comfortable baking with a water bath: setting vessels filled with custard (egg + milk) in a larger pan, filling the pan with hot water, then setting the pan in an oven to bake slowly.

There’s nothing hard about it, but it does require planning: custards typically bake for 45 minutes to an hour, then often chill for about 8 hours before serving.

Last fall, I had hoped to make chocolate pots de crème for a French bistro cooking class I was teaching at the Hillsdale General Store. If I made them the traditional way, it would have been a logistical challenge: making one batch ahead of time, shlepping it to Hillsdale, making a fresh batch, shlepping that one home.

It wouldn’t have been a big deal, but it made me think: is there another way to pots de crème? It turns out yes. After a bit of googling, I found two recipes, one from Fine Cooking, the other from Cook’s Illustrated, each calling for making the custards stovetop. What I loved about the Fine Cooking recipe was that it was written to serve 2 people, so if it didn’t turn out well, it wouldn’t have been a huge investment in ingredients. I made it immediately, and it worked beautifully — easy to throw together, and after an hour of chilling, it was ready.

For the class at Hillsdale, we made the pots de crème first, and by the end of class, they were ready. Everyone raved, and I’ve since made the recipe for many occasions.

The Beauty of Stovetop Chocolate Pots de Crème

  • No need to plan ahead: You can make whisk this together just before dinner, and it will be ready to be served by the end — an hour in the fridge is all it needs.
  • Scalability: you can make it for 2 or for 20.
  • Keeping power: If you have the time to plan ahead, these can be made several days in advance and stored in the fridge until needed.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Lovebirds!

PS: More Desserts here | More Valentine’s Day ideas here

Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients:
Ingredients for making stovetop pots de creme.

Separate the yolks from the whites; you need 8 yolks. (Save the whites for angel food cake.):
Ingredients for making stovetop pots de creme on a table.

Overhead shot of a pot of cream on a portable burner aside other ingredients for stovetop pots de creme.

Temper the yolks: slowly whisk the hot cream and milk mixture into the yolks:
A liquid measure filled with yolks and hot cream being tempered with a whisk.

Return the custard to the stovetop and cook until it coats the back of a spoon:
An over head shot of a portable burner holding a cream-egg yolk mixture.

Add the chocolate, sugar, and vanilla:
An overhead shot of a pot filled with an egg-cream custard, sugar, and chocolate.

Whisk to combine:
An overhead shot of a pot holding the pots de creme mixture with a whisk inside.

Strain to remove any curdled egg:
An overhead shot of a strainer set in a liquid measure filled with the chocolate pots de creme custard.

An overhead shot of a strainer set in a liquid measure emptied of the chocolate pots de creme custard.

Pour into glasses and chill until ready to serve:
A 9x13-inch baking pan filled with small glasses filled with the chocolate pots de creme.

Meanwhile, make the whipped cream:
A large bowl filled with heavy cream and a wire whip.

Whip until thick…
A large bowl filled with homemade whipped cream and a wire whip.

then spoon it into the glasses:
A board filled with small glasses filled with chocolate pots de creme and topped with homemade whipped cream.

Shave chocolate over top if you wish:
A board filled with small glasses filled with chocolate pots de creme and topped with homemade whipped cream and shaved chocolate over top.

A board filled with small glasses filled with chocolate pots de creme and topped with homemade whipped cream.

A board filled with small glasses filled with chocolate pots de creme and topped with homemade whipped cream, shaved chocolate, and a spoon.

A spoonful of homemade stovetop chocolate pots de creme and whipped cream.

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A board filled with small glasses filled with chocolate pots de creme and topped with homemade whipped cream.

Chocolate Pots de Crème (Stovetop Method: No Water Bath | Ready in 1 Hour)

  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: 10


Adapted from this Fine Cooking recipe. Pots de crème, which translates to “pot of cream,” is pronounced: POH-də-KREM

See notes below if you’d like to make this for only 2 people.

I recently made a double batch of this for a Valentine’s Day dinner at the Vischer Ferry General Store. For a double batch, I added 1/2 cup Grand Marnier, and I thought it turned out especially well. I also use Guittard 72% chocolate wafers, which also attributed to its especially nice flavor.

These are the glasses I used to serve the pots de crème in: 5 oz. Libbey Lexington Juice Glass. You have to buy a case, which has 36 glasses, which is a lot, but they are so handy for water, wine, all sorts of desserts. I’ve split a case with a friend in the past only to buy another full case to have on hand. If you want to buy fewer glasses, these are similar and you can buy fewer (12).


for the pots de crème:

  • 2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup 2% or whole milk
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips or chocolate bars broken into small pieces (Guittard 72% cacao chocolate wafers makes for an especially delicious flavor)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons Grand Marnier, optional

for the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar + more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon plus more to taste flaky sea salt such as Maldon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Heat the cream and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat until scalding hot. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl. Slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the eggs.
  2. Return the milk mixture to the pan, reduce the heat to low, and whisk until it thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, sugar, and a pinch of salt; whisk until melted. Strain through a medium-mesh sieve into a medium bowl. Taste. Add a pinch more salt if necessary — I always do. Add the vanilla and booze if using. Start with 2 tablespoons, then add more to taste, stirring after each addition—the mixture might look thin, especially if you add 4 tablespoons of booze, but it will thicken in the fridge. Divide the mixture between eight to nine 6-oz. ramekins or serving glasses. Refrigerate until set, at least 1 hour.
  3. Meanwhile: make the whipped cream: Beat the cream with a whisk or with the whip of a stand mixer. When it begins to form soft peaks, add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, and vanilla. Continue to beat until the peaks get firmer, but are still soft and pillowy. Taste. Add more sugar if it it’s not sweet enough; add more salt  to taste. I like the whipped cream to not be too sweet because the pots de crème is sweet and rich on its own. I typically add a pinch more salt and a pinch more sugar.
  4. To serve, bring the pots de creme to room temperature 20 minutes before serving. Spoon whipped cream over chocolate. Shave chocolate over top.


If you want to just make this for 2 people, use these proportions:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch salt
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American, French

Keywords: stovetop, pots de creme, whipped, cream, dark, chocolate, grand, marnier