Salted Butterscotch Pots de Créme is an elegant, French-inspired, make-ahead dessert that always brings rave reviews. It's also crazy delicious!
When grown women fastidiously scrape every last little bit of a dessert from their bowls, you know it's good! But when they're finished scraping and they glance at each other (slightly embarrassed), and then proceed to use their fingers to wipe the bowls clean, you know it's a stellar dessert! That's exactly what happened when I served these Salted Butterscotch Pots de Créme for a cooking class I was teaching a few years ago.
And everyone else who's tried it since has had a similar response. Except, some people moan a little with each silky smooth bite. Seriously, this dessert is that good!
A delicious recipe - simplified
The recipe for these Butterscotch Pots de Créme originated over at Epicurious, where it has received many 5-star accolades. I adapted it a bit to make the process a little easier. And recently, after several years of making this awesome dessert, I made a few more changes to simplify things even more.
I skip the fancy sugars that Epicurious calls for in their recipe (Demerara and muscovado) and used dark brown sugar and granulated sugar. I can't imagine these little "pots of cream" (the literal French translation of Pots de Créme) being more delicious, so there's no need to hunt around for specialty products.
Epicurious's directions for warming the cream (in a separate pot) to dissolve the brown sugar also seemed like an extra step to me so I just add the cream to the caramelized sugar now, knowing the caramel will seize up a bit but then melt again as the mixture continues to heat. The brown sugar dissolves nicely and the recipe now requires just one pot instead of two. Win!
Lastly, I decided to increase the proportions slightly to make the serving sizes a bit larger since everyone seems to go crazy over these fabulous Butterscotch Pots de Créme and has a sad look when the "pot" is empty.
I like to finish these little pots of deliciousness with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt (I'm a sucker for Maldon) and a dollop of freshly whipped cream. The salt and cream make a beautiful presentation and the super-thin flakes of sea salt add a lovely crunch with each bite. Of course, a little cloud of billowy, freshly whipped cream takes just about any dessert to a heavenly level!
Desserts that can be made in advance are always a big hit for this busy cook and avoid lots of last-minute stress. These Butterscotch Pots de Créme can be made a day or two before serving. Just cool, then cover and refrigerate. I like to take them out of the fridge about an hour before serving to take the chill off - it helps bring out that wonderful butterscotch flavor.
So, if you're looking for a crazy delicious, French-inspired, scrape-the-bowl-clean dessert, pick up some heavy cream and dark brown sugar next time you're at the market. You probably have everything else you need for these wonderful Butterscotch Pots de Créme. Expect lots of compliments - and sighs of delight!
Café Tips for making these Butterscotch Pots de Créme
- This recipe calls for 6 egg yolks. What do you do with all those whites? There are lots of recipes that call for just the whites of the egg, like these delicious and beautiful Schaum Tortes, these Ridiculously Easy French Almond Cookies, or, how about a batch of these pretty and fun Red Velvet Meringues? If you don't want to use the whites within a few days, just pop them in the freezer. They'll be good there for up to 12 months! Before freezing, place the whites in an airtight container and label them with the date. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
- Don't try to slim this recipe down. It's not a "dieter's delight" recipe, but rather, an elegant, special occasion dessert and a splurge in regard to calories. If you're watching every calorie, save this dessert for a celebration down the road or just make something else that's lower in calories (like the Schaum Tortes I referred to above or a bowl of fresh fruit with a drizzle of Raspberry Coulis or Limoncello Syrup). All this being said, it's worth every luxurious calorie! (You might want to have some pity on me. I had to make these delicious pots de crème several times to get them just right, for you. Now I'm having to do double and triple laps on my morning walks!)
- When you add the cream to the caramelized sugar mixture the caramel will seize up a bit and some hard shards. No worries! Just keep heating and stirring and the shards will melt back into the liquid.
- Don't skip the straining step, just before baking these Butterscotch Pots de Créme. That's part of what makes them so silky smooth! You'll need a fine-mesh strainer for this. A regular strainer won't filter out any little bits of egg. A set of fine-mesh strainers is really handy to have for lots of kitchen tasks and won't break the bank.
- There are lots of different options for pots de crème serving dishes. Have fun choosing something perfect for your style of entertaining.
My favorite? These charming little Weck jars. Made in Germany, Weck jars can be used for jams, jellies, sauces and make wonderful gifts, filled with - whatever you love to make! They come in lots of different shapes and sizes but I love these pretty Weck Tulip jars.
- This dessert can be made one to two days in advance. When cool, cover and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator one hour before serving.
- If using a deeper container for your Pots de Crème (like my favorite Weck jars, pictured above) it's a little harder to add a pretty dollop of whipped cream without making a mess. I like to put my whipped cream in a pastry bag or zip lock bag, snip off a corner and dollop neatly right into the jars like this:
Thought for the day:
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the soul, firm and secure.
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Butterscotch Pots de Créme is an elegant, French-inspired, make-ahead dessert that always brings rave reviews. It's also crazy delicious!
Preheat oven to 300˚F with a rack in the middle position. Place six 4-6-ounce ramekins in a 2-inch sided baking pan.
Bring water and granulated sugar to a boil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until water has been reduced and mixture forms large bubbles and turns a medium amber color. This should take about 5-6 minutes. If the color is not changing at 5 minutes, increase the heat. Watch the mixture carefully, once it begins to turn color, as it will change quickly.
Carefully add the cream (mixture will bubble up and steam). The caramel will seize up a bit and form some hard shards. Continue to cook and stir until the caramel shards are completely dissolved (2-4 minutes). Add the brown sugar and stir until dissolved.
In the empty bowl (where the cream was) whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla. Add the egg yolks in a SLOW, STEADY stream to the cream mixture, whisking continuously. (Adding the eggs slowly will keep them from scrambling in the hot cream mixture.)
Pour the butterscotch through a fine-mesh sieve back into the egg yolk bowl. Skim off any foam with a spoon. Divide custard among ramekins or pots. Pour hot water around the ramekins to reach about halfway up their sides. Bake, uncovered, until the pots de crème are set around the edges, but still tremble slightly in centers, about 35-40 minutes.
Cool to room temperature in water bath. Pots de crème will continue to set as they cool. If not serving within a few hours, cover and refrigerate.
Remove from refrigerator 1 hour before serving.
Serve with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a dollop of whipped cream.
Recipe adapted from Epicurious