The Story Behind Our Pots de Crème Set, and a Recipe...

A dainty little pot of scrumptiousness.  If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of enjoying a pot de crème, it is a lusciously rich treat that you will always remember and be eager to order again at any opportunity.

To be honest, I can’t say what is was that first drew me to Pots de Crème over a decade ago – was it the promise of the dessert’s divine creaminess, or was it the enchanting lidded pots they were served in?  All I knew was that no crème brulee or flan could compare to the flavor and texture of this magical dessert.

I scoured the internet for recipes, tried as many as the waistband on my pants would allow, and became a master at not sloshing my bain marie (that fancy name for a water bath) at baking time.  I even started creating my own recipes to coincide with the changing of the seasons. 

For a long time, I struggled to find a nice Pots de Crème set, and settled for using ramekins.  But when I learned that the buyer here at Linda Anderson had come across the set you see above at a housewares show, I suggested… repeatedly… until I wore everyone down…  that there might be customers out there who are as crazy as me for this yummy dessert, who also couldn’t find pots to serve it in.  I even offered to include one my recipes on the webpage (I think it was for Strawberry and White Chocolate, owing to it being early summer when Linda Anderson first started carrying the Pots de Crème sets).

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in my love of Pots de Crème.  Over the years, it has been one of Linda Anderson’s most popular products, and helped launch the catalog’s foray into hard-to-find, irresistible kitchen wares.  Even the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, purchased a number of sets from us a few years ago.  I packed them myself, and included a copy of my recipe with the order.  Wildly presumptuous, I know, and without doubt that recipe probably got tossed out with the packing slip, but it was a happy fantasy for me to believe that my recipe might be served in the legendary one-time home of the Vanderbilts.

But things change, including websites, and somewhere along the line, my recipe disappeared into the ether.  And the company making our little pots stopped making those little pots… until one day this summer, when suddenly they were back again.  Which is when I learned of the mishap befalling my recipe (um, yes, I didn’t manage to save a copy of it anywhere for myself, it turns out). 

So, now, just in time for the harvest and holiday seasons, I’m offering up an autumnal recipe I’ve created called Pumpkin Caramel Pots de Crème.  The recipe gives you the option of baking the custards in a water bath (a bain marie!) for a more traditional mousse-like texture, or simply refrigerate them for a pudding-like texture.  You can even go dairy-free by substituting almond milk for the heavy cream, and butterscotch sauce for caramel sauce.

If it goes over well with everyone, perhaps I will attempt an eggnog Pots de Crème recipe for New Year’s.  Or should it be Champagne Pots de Crème?

 

Pumpkin Caramel Pots de Crème

1 Cup heavy whipping cream        (or almond milk for a dairy-free option)

6 egg yolks, room temperature

3 Tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar

1/4 Cup caramel sauce        (or butterscotch sauce for a dairy-free option)

1/2 Cup pumpkin puree

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract        (or a nut-flavored liqueur of your choice)

Pinch salt

 

Preheat oven to 325°.  Bring a large kettle or pot of water to a boil,  then bring to a simmer (these steps are only if you are making the baked Pots de Crème).

In a small saucepan, scald cream (heat at low temperature without stirring, not allowing the cream to boil, until a skin forms on the top, then remove skin with a spoon or fork).  Stir in brown sugar until it dissolves.

Whisk egg yolks.  Temper the eggs by slowly adding the hot cream and sugar mixture as you whisk the eggs, creating a custard (going too fast will result in some solid scrambled-egg like pieces).  Once everything is thoroughly mixed together, return the custard mixture to the stove and cook at medium-low heat until the liquid coats the back of a spoon.  This is especially important if you will be going straight to the refrigerator and bypassing the baking step.

Remove from heat, stir in caramel sauce until it is completely incorporated in the custard mixture (you can make your own caramel sauce, but I was very satisfied with the flavor and texture of the store bought).  Stir in pumpkin, spices and vanilla, whisk until smooth.

 

For no-bake Pots de Crème:

Divide custard evenly between six pots or four small ramekins.  Chill in the refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight.  Allow to chill for at least an hour before covering the custards with their lids or plastic wrap/foil.

 

For baked Pots de Crème:

Divide custard evenly between six pots and place the lids on them.  Place pots in a baking pan which is at least four inches deep, with space between them.  Place the pan on the baking rack in the oven, pulling it out far enough for you to easily add water to the pan.  Gently pour the hot water into the pan, filling it about halfway up the sides of the pots.  Carefully slide the rack into the oven and bake until the custards are set, but still a bit wobbly in the very center, about 50 to 55 min.  When done, remove pan from the oven and carefully remove the pots from their water bath (I use tongs to lift them just out of the water, quickly grabbing them using a silicone potholder – the non-slip grip of silicone is ideal for this slippery job).  Remove lids, turning them up to let the steam dry out of them.  Let custards cool before chilling in the refrigerator 6-8 hours or overnight.

 

Tips:

The recipe makes 6 pots de crème size servings, or will fill 4 small ramekins.  If you are using ramekins for the cooked pots de crème, cover them individually with foil before baking, then remove (and save) the foil while the custards cool, then recover them when placing in the refrigerator to chill.

For best flavor results, make a day ahead of when you plan to serve this dessert.  If you don’t think you can wait that long to dig into them (understandable!), the recipe can easily be doubled and no one need know about the extra batch.  Bon appetit!

 

Look for our Pots de Crème set, along with an array of Demitasse Spoons to serve them with, in our upcoming October catalog.

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