Salted Butterscotch Pots de Crème
This may just be my favorite dessert ever. The name "pot de crème" translates to “pot of cream.” The custard has a rich velvety texture similar to crème brûlée and the flavor is a light butterscotch that borders on caramel. It’s thicker than pudding and I don’t have any other way to describe it other than luxurious. I particularly love the balance of the homemade whipped cream on top with flake sea salt, which offsets the sweetness of the custard. I originally had a similar dessert at the hotspot Gjelina in Venice. Since it is difficult to get reservations at the restaurant, I knew I had to find a way to recreate it at home. Plus I knew that I would be so sad if they took it off the menu and it was taken away from me before I got to recreate it.
It is fairly easy to make so don’t be intimidated. The dessert is perfect for small dinner parties – pots de crème are always a hit. Because they take a little while to cool I will often make them the day before so that dessert is one less thing on my mind when I prepare to cook for a group of people. While store bought whipped cream can be substituted for homemade whipped cream, the less sugary homemade version better compliments the dessert.
Since the recipe only calls for egg yolks, rather than discarding the egg whites I save them to make meringue cookies, like these.
2 ½ cups heavy cream, divided
6 tablespoons dark muscovado sugar*
¼ teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons Demerara sugar*
4 large egg yolks
½ teaspoon vanilla
maldon sea salt, for serving
4 (8-ounce) ramekins
Preheat the oven to 300°.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring 1½ cups of heavy cream, muscovado sugar, and salt to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove the pan from heat.
In another medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 6 tablespoons water and Demerara sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Continue to simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it is bubbly and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat then slowly add the cream mixture, whisking until combined.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Slowly add the cream mixture in a steady stream, whisking until thoroughly combined. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium mixing bowl. Skim off any foam with a spoon and discard.
Evenly divide the custard among the ramekins. Arrange the ramekins in a roasting pan and add boiling water until the ramekins are covered about half way up. Bake in the hot water bath until the custards are set around the edges but not fully cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Transfer the ramekins to a rack and let cool. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. The custard will continue to set as it cools. While the pots de crème cool, add the remaining cup of cream to a medium mixing bowl and whisk until the cream forms stiff peaks. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Serve the pot de crème chilled. Top each with whipped cream and sprinkle sea salt over top.
*Note: dark muscovado sugar and demerara sugar can be found in the baking section of Whole Foods stores and online here and here. Dark brown sugar can be used as a substitute for the dark muscavado sugar.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious.com.