Burnt Caramel Custard (Pot de Crème)

What initially attracted me to this dessert was the word ‘burnt,’ and that interests stems from 2 reasons: 1) Usually burnt is not a great descriptor for food, so I was intrigued; and 2) Holy sh*t is it cold out. If somethin’s gettin’ burned, somethin’s gettin’ hot, and I like that.

I’ve also recently come to appreciate the custard, whereas in my younger days I thought ‘why waste dessert on something that’s not cake?’ Don’t get me wrong, I still think flan is the stuff of nightmares, deserving of retirement à la green, canned-fruit-stuffed jello molds. Crème brûlée also deserves to be slapped down a peg or two [I mean, it’s no tarte tatin]. But custard? Well, custard is unpretentious, easy to make, and isn’t the monster of the classic horror movie, “The Blob.”

This burnt caramel custard, or pot de crème if you want to get French about it, is creamy without being overwhelmingly rich, is chocked full of vanilla beans for a complex finish, and has the taste of your favorite salted caramel…the stuff you get for $16 from Williams-Sonoma because your Aunt gave you some unexpected Christmas money, not the stuff inside of Milk Duds.

Still not convinced? It also has a super easy, 1-minute-to-make, fresh maple whipped cream topping. Oh, and you can make the custard 2 days ahead-the perfect dessert for when you have to make all the things o__0

If I turn into The Blob from calorie consumption I apologize, residents of D.C, but…IT.WAS.WORTH.IT 😉

caramel4[Recipe from Bon Appétit. Makes 8 custards in 6-oz. ramekins.]

Equipment:

  • Pastry brush [optional]
  • Whisk
  • 8 [6-oz.] ramekins
  • Baking dish or roasting pan [I used a 9×13 cake pan]
  • Handheld beaters or a stand mixer [optional]

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart heavy cream + 8 oz. heavy cream
  • 2-3 Tbl. maple syrup or to-taste
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 3/4 cup + 4 Tbl. sugar, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks, rm. temp.
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • Flaky sea salt [I used Maldon]

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Place 1 quart cream in a medium saucepan ; scrape in seeds from the vanilla bean and add pod. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbl. sugar and 2 Tbl. water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, swirling pan occasionally and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until mixture turns a deep amber color, about 4 min.; remove caramel from heat.

Remove vanilla pod from cream and discard. Slowly add cream to caramel [mixture will bubble]. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, about 2 min.

Whisk egg yolks, kosher salt, and remaining 2 Tbl. sugar in a large bowl. Slowly stream in caramel cream, whisking constantly. Divide custard among the 8 ramekins and place in a kitchen towel-lined baking dish. Fill pan with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake until custard is just set but still jiggly in the center, 60-70 min. Remove ramekins from baking dish and place on a wire rack to let cool. Chill custards in the fridge, uncovered, at least 3 hours.

Before serving your custard, beat the 8 oz. of heavy cream with 2-3 Tbl. of maple syrup with mixers on high until the cream is stiff. Top chilled custards with the whipped cream and sprinkle with sea salt.

*Note: Custards can be made 2 days ahead. After chilled for 3 hours, cover tightly with plastic wrap, ensuring that the wrap does not touch the surface of the custard. Keep chilled.

Sprinkling with over-priced sea salt. Ignore the Elvira nails.

caramel5Topping with whipped cream, because, clearly, this dessert was suffering from a heavy cream-deficiency 😉

caramelThe consistency is ridiculously perfect.

caramel2Ohhhhh artsy photo!

caramel3

A Very Baking Christmas

You may be saying to yourself: ‘Meris doesn’t care about her blog anymore…either that or she’s become a vegan and spends her time shunning technology in an Amish hideaway.’ Lies, all lies. Truth is, I’ve been baking up a storm the last few weeks, squirreling away recipes and hurried photos so that I can once again bombard the Internets. [*Sidenote: I don’t think the Amish are vegans, but whatevs]

To begin with, I made strawberry cupcakes from a box with jar icing for my coworker, Little Jake, who says this is his favorite kind of cake and icing. Behold, my foray back into Betty Crocker [I couldn’t help it-had to make little star decorations]:

xmas2Next came the holiday cupcakes for my office:

xmas6Everything was made with either gum paste or stiff buttercream.

xmas3

The snowman was everyone’s favorite. And yes, I realize that’s more pimp hat than snow hat.

xmasThe cupcakes are red velvet with cream cheese frosting and gingerbread with cinnamon cream cheese frosting. You can find the recipe for the red velvet cupcakes here and for the cream cheese frosting here. The gingerbread cupcake recipe is here at King Arthur Flour and I use my own cream cheese frosting I listed above rather than KAF’s, but change it a bit by adding cinnamon to taste.

xmas5Enough to please a crowd!

xmas4My editorial cohorts, Denny and Jake in their holiday finest 😉

denny_jakeLaura and I in our 4-glasses-of-wine finest. I made duck face because I thought we were taking a funny photo…no one told me it wasn’t supposed to be funny o__0

laura_meAnd finally the Bûche de Noël (a French Yule Log) for my boyfriend’s family. [You can find my Frenchie mother’s handed-down-through-generations recipe here] Before I show you what I made this year, I thought I’d show you my very first try a few years back:

bucheAnd the Bûche de Noël of 2013! A little less cartoonish? My meringue mushrooms also don’t look like little albino poops. [You can find the fool-proof meringue mushroom recipe here]

xmas7I tried really hard to make a pine cone by just “winging it” and no research into how gum paste pine cones are actually made…sooooo it’s a flower-pine cone 😉

xmas8The holly-looking decoration was made with gum paste.

xmas9Aerial view. The “bark” was made by melting chocolate onto a huge sheet of waxed paper, letting it dry ALMOST completely, then breaking it off randomly into chunks.

xmas10I apologize for the lack of quality photos this time, peeps! I really was in a huge rush making these things this year for some reason, so I snapped and wrapped without much thought. Future posts will have much better photos!

Speaking of future posts, stick around…burnt caramel custards are on the horizon. And by that I mean literally in the next few days and not another few months as has been my horrible habit lately 😉

Happy belated holidays, everyone!