Special equipment: 6 (4-ounce) espresso cups or other small cups
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a small pot, over low heat, bring the milk, half and half, almond extract, vanilla seeds and vanilla pod to a gentle simmer. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler. In a large bowl, add the eggs, cocoa, and sugar and whisk to combine. Pour the heated milk mixture into the melted chocolate and whisk to combine. Temper the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, adding it slowly to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Do not overmix. You want the ingredients to be blended but not frothy or bubbly.
Pour the mixture into the small cups, filling almost to the top. Put the cups in a baking pan and fill the pan with 2 inches of water. Cover the top of the pan with aluminum foil. This will prevent the custard from forming a tough skin as it cooks. Put the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the custards are set but still a little loose, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven.
Carefully remove the cups from the water bath and allow them to cool for 30 minutes Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or refrigerate overnight, before serving with the whipped cream.
This is really just an elegant pudding, cooked slightly firm, in small espresso cups or pots. I like to serve this with a good cookie for dipping biscotti, for example.
Recipe courtesy of Alex Guarnaschelli