There is a restaurant in Dallas, Neightborhood Services, that has a butterscotch pot de creme on the dessert menu. The first time I had it I had to close my eyes it was so delicious. I might have come close to falling out of my chair. They serve it in little glass jars with those flat wooden spoons. The presentation adds to the amazingness of it, as does eating off of those cute wooden spoons! Since then I’ve said I was going to make them myself. Well I’ve finally done it, and the results were incredible. Not quite Neighborhood Srevices incredible, but I think sometimes recreating a restaurant dish is next to impossible since the atmosphere isn’t the same. But I’m getting off the point. These are truly amazing and wonderful and you should make them. You’ll make friends for life with whoever you share them with.
These creamy, decadent, sweet and just slightly salty desserts would make a great end to a dinner party since this recipe makes enough to fill 12 4-ounce ramekins. If you’re not looking to make a dozen of these, then just cut the ingredients in half and use larger, 6-ounce ramekins or the smaller size and have a few leftover. I’ve enjoyed a few of these now over the last couple of days after storing them covered in the fridge and every time they’re just as delicious.
Pot de creme sounds fancy, but it’s just a baked custard, literally “pot (or jar) of cream” in French. Say something in French and it automatically becomes fancy! And pot de creme is not hard to make. You can easily make these as long as you have the right tools and follow the directions. There are only a couple tools you may not have in your kitchen that you need.
- Oven safe ramekins, either 4 or 6-ounce. I have these and love them, but they are on the smaller side. Might invest in some larger ones at some point, like these simple ones. Or someday a set of these.
- A fine mesh strainer, like this one. Make sure to get one with a lip on the opposite side of the handle so it will hang on your bowl while you pour in the custard.
Since they require at least 4 hours of chilling you can even make them ahead of time (earlier in the day or the day before) making pulling off a dinner and impressive dessert much easier. I’ve tried before to make a nice dinner and dessert, and doing them too close together found me almost too tired to enjoy it all, and I’m pretty sure we ate both dinner and dessert much later than I’d planned. And my kitchen was a disaster. Getting dessert done early makes your life much easier.
The only problem I ran into was the difference in these two custards.
You can see the one on the left is smooth and beautiful. The one on the right is a little textured on top and if I’d spooned out a bit you’d see it had formed a small amount of skin. But still tasted amazing! And if you cover the tops in whipped cream you don’t have to worry about it, but it bothered me still. I can identify a couple of things that could have caused the difference.
- Letting the custard mixture sit before baking. Since I had 12 custards to bake I had to do them in two batches. The smooth and beautiful ones were the ones I baked second. Maybe the weird tops were caused by bubbles in the mixture? Maybe giving the mixture time to settle is a necessary step? Not sure, but I think it’s a good guess.
- Covering the pan with foil while baking. I baked them all in a water bath, and I covered each pan with foil, but the second batch I covered more tightly with the foil. So maybe the steam trapped in the pan caused them to cook more evenly? I’m leaning more toward this one.
If you make these and discover the answer or if you’re an expert on the subject, please let me know! For the time being I might let my custard sit for a while before baking AND cover tightly with foil just to be safe.
The caramel sauce is lovely, both visually and for taste. But you don’t need it. If you do choose to make it, let it cool completely as it is very runny right after it’s made, which makes me think 2/3 of a cup of water is too much. Even after a night in the fridge it’s still not thick. I drizzled the sauce on top of the cream, but you could pour a little caramel onto the custard itself and then top with cream. It would be a nice surprise when you dip your spoon down for the first bite.
I apologize for the length of this recipe. Once I started adding in little tips and more detailed instructions it got LONG. If you feel comfortable with custard making, caramel making and all of that go to the linked recipe for a more condensed and succinct recipe. Stay here for overly detailed instructions : ) Enjoy!
Butterscotch Pots de Creme
From Food and Wine
Makes 12 4-ounce or 8 6-ounce custards
For the Pots de Creme
- 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup dark brown sugar
- 5 cups heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 6 large egg yolks
- Boiling water (I just heat a teapot on the stove so it’s ready to go)
For the Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons + 2/3 cup water
For Sweetened Whipped Cream
- 1 pint of heavy cream
- 2-4 teaspoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
- Pots de Creme: Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the brown sugar and cook over medium high heat while whisking constantly until mixture is smooth, thickened slightly and bubbling, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the cream in a slow, steady stream, the mixture will bubble and steam. Return the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, then remove from the heat and stir in the salt.
- Whisk the egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl. Whisk in the hot cream mixture, a little at a time until you’ve added about 2 cups, then whisk in the remaining mixture in a slow steady stream.
- Strain the custard through the fine mesh strainer into another large bowl.
- Fill your ramekins with the custard. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan or a 9×13 baking pan. Place the pan in the oven, then fill the pan with boiling water until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins (being careful not to get any water in the custards) then cover the pan with foil. You may need to bake one batch at a time if you’re baking 12, and that’s just fine.
- Bake for 1 hour (45-50 minutes for smaller ramekins), until the custards are set but still wobbly in the center. Remove ramekins from the water bath, place on a wire rack, then place the rack in the fridge and let custards chill for at least 4 hours. If you’re going to make these the day before, cover each with foil after the 4 hours.
- Caramel Sauce: In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar with 2 tablespoons of water and cook over high heat without stirring, until a deep amber caramel forms, about 6 minutes. Take a pastry brush and wash the sides of the pan with water a couple times during cooking to keep crystals from forming.
- Remove from the heat and add 2/3 cup of water (sugar will violently bubble and steam so be careful) and stir until smooth.
- Let the caramel cool, then stir in the vanilla.
- Whipped Cream: Beat cream on high in a large bowl (stand mixer with whisk attachment or hand mixer) until it just starts to thicken. Add in the powdered sugar and extract and continue to beat until cream holds peaks well. Do not overbeat or you’ll make butter. If the cream starts to look like it’s curdling stop and fold it by hand to smooth it out.
- Top the pots de creme with whipped cream and caramel sauce right before serving. The caramel sinks into the whipped cream and doesn’t look as beautiful after sitting for a while. You can top each with whipped cream a few hours before and then drizzle with sauce right before serving. Or let guests top their own with cream and caramel.