Chocolate Pots and Lemon Polenta Biscuits

I enjoy cooking for friends and often have grandiose ideas of menus for fancy dinner parties. But in the end I like cooking dishes that are delicious but simple. These chocolate pots and lemon polenta biscuits from Jamie Oliver are a perfect, elegant, and easy way to end a meal.

I first discovered these recipes years ago watching Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef. He always seemed to effortlessly pull together a dish. The ease is what got me to try these recipes, the taste makes them part of my go-to recipe collection. The chocolate pots are smooth and rich and pair well with the rustic, not-too-sweet polenta biscuits

Both of these recipes can be found in Jamie Oliver's cookbook, The Naked Chef Takes Off, as well as on the Food & Wine web site. I prefer the chocolate pots recipe found in the cookbook and the biscuit recipe on the F&W web site. The recipes are slightly different but either will turn out great results.

I made some minor changes. For the chocolate pots I vary the amount of brandy depending on who I'm serving. The amount of brandy called for in the recipe can be aggressive for some of my friends. For the biscuits I've taken to using lemon because I have a couple of friends who are allergic to oranges. Orange and chocolate are a classic combination but I find the lemon works well too.

Chocolate Pots

from The Naked Chef Takes Off (a version can also be found on Food & Wine)

Makes 4-6 espresso cups

1 cup light cream
7 ounces best quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons brandy, the best you can get (amount can vary depending on taste)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons butter

In a thick bottomed pan, heat the cream until nearly boiling. Remove and set aside for 1 minute before snapping in your chocolate. Stir in until melted and smooth. Once melted, beat in your egg yolks and brandy and stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly before stirring in the butter until the mixture is smooth. Pour into individual serving pots.

Lemon Polenta Biscuits

adapted slightly from Food & Wine (the original version can be found in The Naked Chef Takes Off)

Makes about six dozen biscuits

1½ cups yellow cornmeal
1½ sticks (6 ounces) chilled unsalted butter
¾ cup sugar
⅔ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs

In a food processor, combine the polenta with the butter, sugar, flour, lemon zest and salt and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the eggs and pulse just until the dough comes together. Transfer the dough to a bowl and refrigerate until slightly firm, about 1 hour (I've refrigerated the dough overnight, it's just a bit firmer to work with).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop slightly rounded teaspoons of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, or until golden around the edges and on the bottoms. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.