Salted Caramel Pots de Creme
Desserts are hard. Not, like, quitting-meth hard or signing-up-for-the-Affordable-Care-Act hard or even getting-up-before-the-4th-snooze hard, but, still. Hard. They’re complex. They require ingredients you don’t usually keep on hand and tools you’ve never heard of. Despite our best intentions, we’re almost always too full to enjoy them enough to justify working so damn hard and they fuck up your kitchen for days.
But not this one.
Pots de Creme (“pots” like Edgar Allen. “de” like you big dummy. “creme” like brulee) require no more special ingredients than your average weekend breakfast. Patently effortless: Half and half, sugar, a splash of vanilla, good salt, and a few eggs (once carefully whisked and slowly water-bathed) turn into the creamiest, dreamiest without making you break a sweat.
Keep this recipe close at hand during the holidays: it and doubles (and triples) well to serve a crowd and is ready in about the time it takes to eat a turkey. It’s the perfect backup for those oh-god-I-fucked-up-my-pumpkin-pie moments and other Thanksgiving tragedies— and is so freaking good, no one will will know the difference.
Salted Caramel Pots de Creme
- ½ cup Sugar
- 2 cups Half & Half
- ¼ cup Sugar (this is listed separately for a reason)
- 1 tbsp Vanilla extract
- 5 Egg Yolks
- ½ tsp Sea Salt, plus more for sprinkling
You will need 4-6 ramekins— or you can use jars, tea cups, coffee cups, regular bowls, or whatever oven-proof container you can access with a spoon.
Preheat your oven to 300°. Place your containers into a large baking pan (the kind you’d use for brownies, or whatever) and fill the pan (not the cups, which should still be empty) with about two inches of hot water. Stick the whole shebang into the oven while you prep.
Make caramel by adding ½ cup Sugar into a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until it melts and starts to turn brown and, well, into caramel. Watch it closely. There are tenths of a seconds between deliciousness and horrifying burnt garbage.
Carefully pour the Half & Half into the still warm caramel mixture. Doing this will likely cause some of the sugar in the pan to harden. That’s fine. Let it simmer over low heat until it dissolves again.
In a large bowl or your mixer, beat the Egg Yolks, remaining 1/4 cup of Sugar, and Sea Salt until they turn light in color and become a little fluffy— like the start of mayonnaise. Pour in the Caramel-y Half & Half very carefully, while continuing to whisk.
For prettier service, skim off any bubbles you can gather. We usually don’t bother, but it does make for a neater, creamier texture.
Open your oven door and carefully ladle the mixture into your cups. This won’t rise, so don’t be afraid to take it to the top if you must. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until just hardly set. Pro-tip: It’s a million times easier to remove the containers from the pan than it is to not spill a giant tray of 300° water. Just take the containers out using tongs or an oven mit and come back for the pan later.
Cool the pots de creme on the counters for at least 15 minutes. Feel free to serve it still warm or cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to three days.
We topped ours with whipped cream and caramel sauce (caramelize some sugar, add a little butter, and a few splashes of cream). You needn’t bother because it’s pretty fucking luscious on its own, but a little extra Salt on top is real nice.