Burnt Sugar Sophistication
Of all the creamy, smooth pudding-like desserts pots de crème are my favorite. I’m talking about baked custards and stove-top cornstarch based puddings, rich crème brulées and chilled panna cottas. You can read All About Pots de Crème, Panna Cottas, Custards and Puddings for more about the similarities and differences. Pots de crème have a balance of cream and milk that hits the spot for me. This is a caramel version. It is elegant, especially when made in true pots de crème cups, and decadent in its simplicity. You can also make these in simple ramekins, as shown here. (To see the pots de crème cups in action, check out our Chocolate Pots de Crème).
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- ¾ cup sugar, divided
- 5 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
- Position rack in center of oven. Preheat oven to 300°F. Arrange 8 pots de crème cups or other small 4-ounce ramekins in a roasting pan.
- Combine cream and milk in a saucepan, bring to a boil, turn off heat and set aside to keep warm.
- Meanwhile place ½ cup sugar in a large nonstick saucepan and caramelize over low-medium heat. Simply cook the dry sugar until it starts to turn glassy around the edges as it melts. Begin to stir gently with a heatproof silicone spatula to help it melt evenly but do not over-agitate (not too many turns and not too fast). Cook until it is a rich, mahogany brown. Immediately add the warm cream; the mixture will bubble up. Whisk until smooth. If any hard caramel pieces develop simply keep heating over low heat until they melt.
- Meanwhile whisk the yolks, eggs, remaining ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and pinch of salt in a heatproof bowl until creamy. Slowly whisk in the hot liquid a bit at a time to temper the eggs. Strain through a fine-meshed strainer into a pitcher or large measuring cup with spout to help you neatly pour the custard into the ramekins/cups, dividing equally. Add enough very hot tap water to come halfway up the sides of the cups. Cover the pots de crème cups (they come with covers) or cover the entire roasting pan with plastic wrap. (Yes, plastic wrap! Trust me. It works).
- Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the edges are set and the centers still wiggle gently if you jiggle the pots. You can insert the tip of a paring knife, and if it comes out clean, they are done, but this mars the surface of the pots de crème (see image in our Chocolate Pots de Crème recipe).
- Cool to room temperature. I prefer to eat these the day they are made, stored at room temperature until serving. The texture will be at its most delicate. They can be chilled overnight and served cold or at room temperature. Add a dollop of whipped cream if you like.
- Turn these into Salted Caramel Pots de Crème by sprinkling the finished tops with some Maldon salt flakes. They have the right crunch and flavor to accent the burnt sugar taste of the pots de crème.