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Dec 12, 2012 05:54 PM

Substitute for Coffee in Chocolate Pots de Creme recipes

Hey All,
I really want to try The Pioneer Woman's Pots du Creme Recipe (; it looks easy and tasty. However, it calls for a cup of coffee per 12 servings and I am allergic to caffeine.

It seems like the main purpose of the coffee is the melt the chocolate and heat the eggs. Could I replace it with boiling milk or something else? What would be good here both in terms of its purpose and its flavor?

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  1. I believe the purpose is to deepen the chocolate flavor and be low-cal. Often you see espresso powder in chocolate recipes for this purpose. Hot milk sounds good to me if you can't use the coffee ... maybe there is some caffeine-free coffee flavoring agent, but that sounds like too much trouble to find. Might as well just make sure the chocolate chips are top-notch ...

    1. alcohol also brings out the chocolate flavor, especially bourbon or brandy. you only need a splash to pack a big flavor punch. if you'd rather not that's ok too. the coffee really is just to ramp up the pow of the chocolate.

      3 Replies
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          The coffee is not just to ramp up the chocolate flavor, it is to heat and cook the eggs. You need a whole cup of it and I don't want to add a cup of boiling brandy to this recipe, I think that would really throw it off.

          1. re: luciaannek

            i wasn't suggesting a cup of brandy. a slug mixed with water works too.

        2. When a recipe calls for coffee, I use decaf. It comes out great and adds depth to the chocolate taste.

          5 Replies
          1. re: treb

            I use decaf, too, in recipes. To-go cup from Starbucks, since we don't drink it at home.

            1. re: jeanmarieok

              i keep instant espresso around since i don't drink coffee either. they must make decaf, yes? that little jar costs less than a cup of coffee from starbuck's and has many servings. :)

            2. re: treb

              Decaf still has caffeine, albeit very little. If we're talking allergies, I probably wouldn't chance it with even decaf. In this case, I would probably just use water. Milk or cream or something might screw up the fat proportions, I think.

              1. re: Violatp

                Chocolate, especially dark chocolate (like the semi-sweet chips used in this recipe) has more naturally occurring caffeine than decaf coffee does, though. If the OP can tolerate the caffeine in chocolate, I think they'd be okay using decaf to boost the chocolate flavor.

            3. Substitute flat Decaf Diet Coke

              1. Actually, I can have chocolate and I cannot have decaf coffee. I don't really know why, decaf coffee makes me feel horrible but I feel fine with chocolate. Allergies are weird. Sorry I didn't make that clear.

                Point being, decaf coffe or decaf soda won't work. What I'm looking for is something that I can heat to boiling so that it will melt the chocolate and cook the eggs, that does not have caffeine. This is why I thought of hot milk. My other thought is that coffee, chemically, is just flavored water, so I could probably add boil water that I flavored in some other way, perhaps strongly vanilla.

                2 Replies
                1. re: luciaannek

                  Maybe a small amount of melted Nutella?

                  1. re: luciaannek

                    Is it a diagnosed allergy? Chocolate has more caffeine than decaf coffee. Allergies are pretty consistent in that it doesn't matter what the vehicle is that the item is in.

                    You could probably use just hot water, or maybe hot water w/ some orange juice to replace some of the acid in coffee but there are plenty of pots de creme recipes that don't have coffee that it might be better to start with those. Is there something specific about this recipe that caught your eye? You'd get a much richer pots de creme from recipes that use cream. Adding orange to it would be easy.