I love to entertain, but my busy travel schedule puts a damper on hosting elaborate dinner parties. While I find that sous vide makes life simpler in terms of cooking the main course, creating delicious desserts with the same ease is more challenging.
Recently, Suzette suggested that I experiment with pots de crème, a French dessert that I used to serve in my restaurants 20 years ago. These rich, custardy treats share their name with a specialized porcelain container fitted with a lid to prevent a skin forming on the top of the custard.
Although I don’t own any pot de crème cups (and I doubt many people do these days, Suzette excepted), this did not deter me. I used ½-cup ceramic ramekins as well as ¾-cup glass canning jars made by Weck. I love these little containers, and while not as elegant as pot de crème cups, they make charming serving dishes.
It takes just a few minutes and four ingredients to prep the custard base, then the water bath does the rest of the work, effectively functioning as a bain marie. As always, the sous vide technique makes cooking the custard foolproof, and the texture of this dessert is absolutely silken and creamy.
Pots de crème are served cold, so you need to plan on several hours of chilling time prior to serving. As an added bonus, the desserts can be made a day or two in advance.
Pots de crème are an ideal fit with my schedule and my dinner party criteria: quick and easy to make, and deliciously different. Drizzled with caramel and topped with a sprinkling of pistachios, here is a perfect ending to any dinner.
Makes eight ½-cup or six ¾-cup servings
- Fill the water oven to the fill line. Arrange a rack so that it rests about a half-inch below the surface of the water. Place empty ramekins, custard cups, or pot de crème cups on the rack and check to see that the level of the water comes two-thirds up the sides of the cups. Remove the containers from the water oven, but leave the rack in place.
- Preheat the water bath to 180°F (82°C).
- Place the cream in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Heat the cream until it is hot, but do not allow it to simmer.
- Meanwhile, grate the zest from the blood orange into a medium-sized stainless steel bowl. Juice the orange and add the juice to the bowl. Whisk in the egg yolks and sugar.
- Slowly add the hot cream to the egg mixture, whisking gently. Transfer the custard to a liquid measuring cup and divide evenly among the ramekins or cups. If using ramekins, place a square of plastic wrap over each dish and secure with an elastic band. Trim off excess plastic wrap. If using lidded jars, secure with the lids. Arrange the filled containers on the rack.
- Cook for 1 hour if using ½-cup ramekins, and 1½ hours if using ¾-cup containers.
- Transfer the ramekins from the water bath to a tray. Remove the plastic wrap or lids and let the pots de crème cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill completely before serving.
- To serve, drizzle each pot de crème with some of the hot Orange Caramel and then sprinkle with chopped pistachios.
- Place the sugar and juice in a skillet set over medium heat. Stir until the sugar has melted, brushing down the sides of the pan to dissolve any stray crystals. Cook, without stirring, until the caramel turns a pale golden. Remove from the heat and immediately drizzle some of the caramel on each serving.