This is a soft, custardy, comforting dessert, and even though it’s made with heavy cream, it’s delivered in small enough little glasses that you really don’t have to feel bad about it at all. If you don’t count the salt and the vanilla, there are only three ingredients in this pot de creme. – sugar, cream, and egg yolks. It’s the transformative effect of heat on sugar that gives it its complex flavors, and it’s the most wonderful thing to end an evening with. I don’t know if hormones are to blame, or what, but there are some nights when dinner just isn’t enough for me. I need that extra little something and this silky pot de creme fills the bill.
Once you get this process down you won’t think twice about it. I’ve made this recipe three times and never had a problem. There are two slightly tricky parts – the first is when you caramelize the sugar. You want to cook it until it gets nice and brown, but not burnt. It will take about 5 to 9 minutes on the stove, but you have to watch it closely, and use your nose, towards the end. The darker the sugar mixture, the more flavor the pot de creme will have, but if it gets too dark, or you start to smell a burnt odor, you’ve taken it too far. You have to have vigilance, and a little bit of trust, to make it work.
The other (slightly) tricky bit is when you add the hot cream into the whisked egg yolks…you want to do it in a slow stream at first so the eggs get ‘tempered’ or brought up to temperature, without scrambling. You can always strain your cream afterwards if you need to, but I didn’t find that was necessary. Just add the hot cream slowly, while you whisk, and you’ll be fine.
The hot cream mixture is poured into small glass or porcelain jars, I used my Weck tulip jelly jars, (you can find them on Amazon HERE.) I set them in a casserole dish and pour a little hot water into the bottom of the pan so the custard cooks evenly. They only take about 30 minutes to cook. The edges will be set, but the centers will still be jiggly. The pot de creme firms up more as it chills, but in general, pot de creme is a little looser in texture than other similar desserts like pudding, custard, flan, or creme caramel.
I really like the dusky caramel flavor and the little edge that the sea salt gives it. This is the adult version of butterscotch pudding.
What You Will Need
- 6 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream (or 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup whole milk)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- sea salt for garnish
- Set oven to 325F
- Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl until well blended. Set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine the sugar and 1/2 cup water and stir to combine. Begin heating it and stir just to dissolve the sugar. Turn up the heat and boil the mixture WITHOUT STIRRING. Continue boiling on medium high heat for anywhere from 5-10 minutes, until the sugar syrup starts to brown. The browner the syrup gets, the more flavor you will have in your finished custard, but be extra careful not to let it burn.
- When the syrup is nice and brown, whisk in the cream (be careful, it will spurt) and continue to stir while you lower the heat to medium. The caramel with be hardened at first and will dissolve as the cream heats. Stir just until all the bits of caramel are dissolved.
- Slowly drizzle the cream mixture into the egg yolk,s whisking as you drizzle. Continue until all the cream has been incorporated into the eggs and is smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Pour the mixture into 6 small oven safe glasses.
- Set the glasses in a baking dish and pour hot water into the dish to come up about an inch or two.
- Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until the custards are set on the edges, but still a little wobbly in the center.
- Let cool and then refrigerate until chilled.
- Serve with a sprinkle of sea salt.
recipe slightly adapted from Gluten Free Baking
A couple of my favorite dessert recipes on the blog happen to be pot de crèmes…
Dark Chocolate Blender Pot de Crème (this one is miraculously made right in the blender, no baking involved!)
and Pumpkin Pot de Crème (I like this even better than pumpkin pie, and if you have gluten free eaters for the holidays, this is perfect)