(Renée Comet for The Washington Post; styling by Bonnie S. Benwick)

To serve a Valentine’s Day dessert worthy of the Inn at Little Washington might seem like a stretch for a novice cook, but chef Patrick O’Connell’s chocolate custard creams are just that easy to pull off.

He’s been making some version — a mashup of creme caramel and chocolate pot de creme — since the inn opened in Washington, Va., in 1978. O’Connell always found the caramel of the classic French custard too sweet, so he replaced it with cooked honey, which effectively eliminates the scary part for amateurs: creating and cleaning up a pot of scalding sugar syrup.

The individual chocolate custard creams are luscious yet not too rich and can be refrigerated for a few days in advance. Present them simp ly with a sauce, or make them as stylishly appointed as the inn itself.

Recipe: Chocolate Custard Creams

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