HEAT oven to 350°F. HEAT half-and-half in medium saucepan until very hot. Half-and-half should be steaming but not bubbling. STIR IN chocolate until melted. STIR IN vanilla. Cool slightly. Meanwhile BEAT egg yolks, sugar and salt in medium bowl until blended but not foamy; slowly stir in chocolate mixture until blended.
PLACE six lightly greased 6-oz. custard cups in baking pan large enough to hold cups without touching each other or sides of pan. POUR egg mixture into cups, dividing evenly.
PLACE pan on rack in center of 350°F oven; pour very hot water into pan to within 1/2 inch of top of cups. BAKE until knife inserted near center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes; center will still be soft. REMOVE cups from water bath at once; COOL on wire rack 5 to 10 minutes. SERVE warm or refrigerate until cold.
This rich chocolate single-serving gourmet dessert can easily be made ahead for parties or holiday entertaining.
Serve with whipped cream and peppermint sticks, fresh raspberries or chocolate curls.
No-mess pouring: Make custard in a bowl with a pouring lip, or transfer it to a large glass measure, to make filling custard cups easier and neater.
For perfectly smooth custard: Strain it through a sieve when filling custard cups or baking dish to remove any tough egg strands.
Be creative. Experiment with adding grated citrus peel, a splash of liqueur or instant espresso dissolved in a bit of water.
This recipe is an excellent source of choline, and a good source of protein and vitamin A.