Happy Spring! I know that spring has not sprung for some people, but it certainly has here in Houston. I wore a sleeveless dress and sat outside with my kids at 6 in the evening enjoying the warm breeze and the last of the sunlight. Now, if only it would stay just like this through August…
These pudding cakes are a perfect spring dessert. The flavor of the meyer lemon is fresh, tangy and sweet. The texture of the cake is light and fluffy. And the pudding layer is creamy without being the least bit heavy. I was going to just have two bites of one of these this afternoon but ended up eating almost the entire thing. I just couldn’t stop.
I’d never made pudding cakes before today, and if you haven’t either you should really try them. During baking the cake forms a top cake layer and a bottom layer of pudding-like goodness. When inverted you get one of the most beautiful desserts that requires very little hard labor. I adore desserts that look more impressive than they actually are!
I made these in individual dishes since that suits us best, being able to eat one at a time. But you can bake this in a 2 quart dish to serve to a group. They are, however, incredibly lovely and impressive when served individually. And, I have to say it again, they’re not difficult! I don’t know why it took me so long to embrace the single serving dessert! While it does mean more dishes in the end, it’s really special to get your own little serving, don’t you think?
If you do make these in ramekins, be sure to grease them well before filling with the batter. After baking, let them cool for about an hour, run a knife around the edge, place a plate on top of the ramekin and flip it over. You may need to wiggle it just a little bit to get it to come out. This is easiest when the puddings are at room temperature. I tried to do it later in the day with one that had been in the fridge for a few hours and it didn’t come out nearly as cleanly. If you do make these ahead of time, let them come to room temperature before flipping.
If you don’t want to invert these little babies, you can serve them in the ramekins and they’re just as lovely. Top with a little whipped cream and lemon zest.
zest of 2 meyer (or regular) lemons + extra zest for garnish
1/4 cup meyer (or regular) lemon juice
2 tablespoons flour
pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
whipped cream for garnish, optional
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 2 quart baking dish or 6 6-ounce ramekins.
In a medium sized bowl beat egg whites to stiff peaks, set aside.
Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
Scrape down the bowl and add egg yolks, beating to combine.
With mixer on low, add the flour and salt, lemon juice, then the milk. Mix until just combined. Scrape down the bowl.
Fold in egg whites with a rubber spatula until egg whites are incorporated but still visible. The batter will look a little strange and lumpy, this is normal!
Pour into prepared pan or ladle into ramekins.
Place pan or ramekins into a large baking dish, fill with boiling water halfway up the sides on the dish then put in the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes if baking in a large dish, 25-35 minutes in individual dishes. Puddings are done when the top is golden and the center springs back when lightly pressed with your finger.
Take dish or dishes out of the water bath and let cool on wire racks, about 1 1/2 hours. At this point serve the puddings or cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. Let come to room temperature before inverting onto the plate. Garnish with lemon zest and whipped cream.
I know. I just posted a pot de creme recipe. But this one is different. And more simple. And just as delicious. I just couldn’t help but share this one with you as well.
This pot de creme is called “butterscotch” on Epicurious, where I found this recipe, but it’s more caramel in flavor in my opinion. Which is fine by me. It’s less rich than the other pot de creme, making it much easier to enjoy. It’s delicious and creamy and a snap to prepare. It’s a great make ahead dessert, and one that would be wonderful for Valentine’s Day for those of you who love sweets but aren’t in to chocolate.
In the original recipe are two sugars, Muscovado and Demerara, that I’ve heard of but couldn’t find at the grocery store, so I simply used light and dark brown sugar. If you can find the others, go right ahead and use them, but the combination of sugars I used was perfect (and probably less expensive).
I did not have the same problem with these pots de creme as I had with the last ones. Each pot de creme was smooth and creamy on top. You do still bake them in a water bath, but there is no need to cover them. Which is nice for absent minded people like me who tend to forget stuff like that.
Top these with sweetened whipped cream, grated chocolate, berries or enjoy them on their own. Enjoy!
sweetened whipped cream, berries, grated chocolate for topping
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Bring a teapot of water to a simmer to use for the water bath.
Combine dark brown sugar, cream and salt in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar completely. Do not let the mixture boil. Remove from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl.
In another saucepan, bring water and light brown sugar to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Continue cooking until the mixture begins to brown and bubble, stirring constantly. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and slowly pour caramel into the cream mixture, whisking to combine. Mixture may bubble and steam.
In a large bowl whisk egg yolks and vanilla, then add hot cream mixture in small amounts, whisking constantly to avoid scrambling the egg yolks. One you’ve added 1/3 of the mixture, stream in the rest and whisk well.
Pour custard through a sieve (to remove any cooked egg lumps) into the bowl that originally contained the cream.
Set 6 ramekins in baking dish then divide custard evenly among them. Place in the oven, then fill pan with hot water, about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Try to keep water from splashing into the custards.
Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes, until custards are set but centers are still wobbly.
Remove ramekins to a cooling rack and cool slightly. You can enjoy these at room temperature, or refrigerate them for a few hours.
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!
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.
When I found myself with a stale baguette, a can of cherry pie filling and more milk than could easily fit in our fridge I knew that bread pudding was the answer to all of my problems.
I had a pot roast on the stove that I’d just spent quite a bit of time preparing, so I wanted something simple. A few recipes involved a cooked custard base, but with my laziness I kept searching. Oh, Paula Deen. You sure do know how to make rich and delicious desserts with little to no effort. You are dangerous, Paula. No scalding of milk or tempering of eggs. Just measure, whisk, pour and bake. This recipe is plain and simple and so it was easy to adapt to what I wanted to do. Here is her original recipe.
The original recipe is baked in a greased 9×13 pan, definitely the simpler option and what I would do if bringing this to a potluck dinner or a casual dinner. But I wanted to make some individual puddings. Paula doesn’t require a water bath for her large bread pudding, but I wanted to make sure there weren’t any issues with the texture or consistency, so I used a water bath for my individual puddings.
This is a great dessert to make for a dinner party because you can make them ahead of time and reheat them. When you sit down for dinner or as people start to finish their meals, stick them in the oven and they are ready to go when you finish.
Cherry Bread Puddings with Almond Brown Sugar Streusel
Adapted from Paula Deen
Makes 10 individual puddings
For the puddings
2 cups granulated sugar
5 large beaten eggs
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 cups cubed stale baguette
1 can of cherry pie filling (you will only use about half of the can)
For the streusel:
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease 10 6-ounce ramekins.
Mix together granulated sugar, eggs, and milk in a bowl. Add vanilla and almond extracts. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for 10 minutes to give the bread time to absorb the liquid.
In another bowl, mix and crumble together brown sugar, butter, and almonds.
Using a 1/3 cup measure, pour a scoop of the pudding and bread mixture into each ramekin. Then take about 1 tablespoon of cherry pie filling and plop it in the middle. Use a knife to push the pie filling around in the ramekin without mixing it too much. Top each pudding with some of the streusel.
Using 2 9×13 pans or a large roasting, arrange ramekins so that they do not touch each other. Have 4-6 cups hot water ready to go, I just used hot water from the tap. No need to boil it. Place the pans in the oven then pour hot water around the ramekins so that it comes up 1/3 to 1/2 way up the sides without getting any water into the ramekins.
Bake for 40 minutes, remove from the oven and water bath and let cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let the puddings finish setting. Serve cold or warm in the oven again for 15-20 minutes at 350°F.