It might seem reductive to say, “Life is complicated,” but what I mean by that is, in fact, I am complicated—from my opinion on Bravo reality shows (love to hate, y’all) to the detailed lists I make nearly every time I visit the grocery store, I’m the opposite of Coco Chanel, at least insofar as cooking is concerned. But, while this “more is more” approach has helped me nurture my creative culinary talent, sometimes it can be exhausting for even the most seasoned home cook. And on those days, I eat cereal for dinner and serve espresso pots de crème for dessert.
I first encountered a pot de crème at the cafe where I work in the Honolulu Museum of Art—the most velvety, moussey-goosey, life-changing chocolate dessert you can imagine. After discovering this recipe, however, I’ve decided that in fact all pots de crème are capable of changing lives or at the very least stomach sizes. I’ve never made a lilikoi one, for instance, but I can already feel my toes curling. So—please—consider it your life’s work to go forth and make a pot de crème. In fact, I dare say you should make this one.
Second only to the flavor of this recipe is the fact that it is so incredibly simple: I adapted it from an old William Sonoma cookbook I found at my neighborhood Goodwill, and I truly believe even novice cooks could whip this up without nary breaking a sweat. Really the only difficult step is waiting for the desserts to chill so that you can dive face first into them. I added half a vanilla bean because I honestly believe it deepens the flavor and also because see-paragraph-one. If you don’t have access to fresh vanilla bean, I’d recommend adding only an additional half teaspoon of vanilla extract instead. And, if you don’t adore coffee as much as I do (really, who could?), you may decrease the espresso powder to a reasonable three tablespoons. The only step I will insist upon, however, is polishing off your heavy cream to make homemade whipped. Cool-whip or really anything from a can simply won’t cut it. Treat yourself 2015. Serve it with cereal (I kid, I kid) or any meal of your choice for a robust and elegant dessert. No one has to know that it took less effort than it does to make Rice Krispies treats. At least, I won’t tell if you won’t.
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 3½ tablespoons instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ vanilla bean, scraped
- 4 egg yolks
- Preheat your oven to 325F.
- Warm the cream in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until small bubbles form at the edges. Do not allow it to achieve a boil.
- Add the sugar, espresso powder, vanilla extract and bean caviar to the cream and whisk together. Keep stirring until sugar and espresso have dissolved. Remove from the heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together. Pouring slowly, add the cream and espresso mixture to the eggs yolks, whisking continuously so that the cream mixture does not scramble the eggs. Once you’ve added half the cream, you can continue adding in larger splashes, making sure to continue whisking.
- Strain the mixture through a sieve to remove any clumps and ensure it is smooth.
- Divide the mixture evenly between 4 1-cup ramekins. Place these ramekins into a deep baking dish (I use a roasting pan), and fill the dish with hot water that reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
- Cover the baking dish with foil, and place carefully in the oven.
- Bake for approximately 35 minutes, or until the pots de crème are set. This will happen when the centers still jiggle slightly when shaken but the edges remain still.
- Remove the ramekins carefully from the pan and set on the counter to cool. Once cool to the touch, wrap each ramekin with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.