Okay, I totally admit it - I'm a HUGE sucker for caramel.
In fact, at the risk of being tarred and feathered by some, I actually prefer it to chocolate. Of course, if you're a friend and frequent visitor here at The Café, you already know this, since I'm forever coming up with one type of caramel concoction or another. Like this Ridiculously Easy Caramel Sauce or these Caramel Pecan Hand Pies. Then there's my Pumpkin Pie Caramel Corn (made in the microwave!) and these yummy Apple Cider Caramels.
You know what I just realized? You and I could be here just about all day if I shared links for all my caramel recipes. I typed the word "caramel" in The Café search bar - wow, there are TONS of caramel recipes. If you think I'm kidding, you can check it out for yourself here.
On a side note, while we're on the subject of caramel, I have to share a huge surprise that we received this past weekend. Scott and I attended a wonderful food blogger's conference called Mixed, held at a lovely resort way up high on a mountaintop in central Virginia. The folks at Dixie Crystals held a cookie contest with a grand prize of a free conference ticket and $500. I entered my Old Fashioned Shortbread Cookies with (yup, you guessed it!) Salted Caramel and... we won!! I'm still in a state of shock as I've never been one to win anything.
Today, I'm adding another caramel recipe to the collection. Everyone seems to go crazy for these Salted Caramel Pots de Créme.
They sound a bit fancy, but they can be made in advance and don't take long at all to put together. They're really quite down-home (like a good old-fashioned caramel pudding), but sophisticated (a French classic) at the same time. This crowd-pleaser can be made ahead of time, it’s very portable, and it makes a gorgeous presentation served in pretty little bowls.
If you’re feeling a bit stressed about the upcoming holidays or an upcoming dinner party, make your life a little easier by trying this simple technique for entertaining, and be sure to try a batch of these Salted Caramel Pots de Crème. You won’t regret it. Oh, and just to be really prepared, take a few practice bows in front of the mirror, in case you get a standing ovation!
This wonderful dessert can also be seen over at Parade Magazine.
- 1 cup dark brown sugar divided
- ¼ cup water
- 1 cup half & half
- 6 egg yolks from large eggs
- 1½ cups heavy whipping cream
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- a pinch kosher salt
- sea salt for garnish
In a heavy duty medium size saucepan, combine ¾ cup brown sugar and¼ cup water. Cover pan and bring to a boil. This will take just a minute or two, then uncover, reduce to a very low, but constant simmer. Cook for 10 minutes. Do not stir, but swirl the pan frequently to prevent burning.
Add half and half. Stir to combine. Return mixture to a boil, then reduce to a low, constant simmer and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Scrape down sides of pot with a spatula once or twice during this cooking time. Mixture will thicken towards the end. Remove from heat and cool for 20 minutes.
While mixture is cooling, preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, remaining ¼ cup dark brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Strain through a fine mesh strainer. (This step is not necessary but will make for a silky smooth, finished product.)
When caramel has cooled, slowly add egg yolk mixture, stirring continuously.
Divide the mixture between 6-8 small ramekins or oven-proof dishes. Place ramekins in a baking pan with high sides (a 9x13-inch cake pan works great). Pour hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the pan with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Deeper ramekins will take a bit longer than shallow ones. Pots de Créme are finished when custard wiggles just slightly when pan is gently moved.
Remove from oven and allow pots de creme to remain in water bath till cool enough to handle, then remove and refrigerate for at least an hour, covered with plastic wrap. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt as a garnish when serving. I like to serve with a separate bowl of whipped cream and allow guests to enjoy as desired.