My dear wife and I were planning meals for the week using the highly recommended Our Groceries app. I had read a post over at Zoe Bakes that I really wanted to make as a surprise. So I read off the ingredients without telling her what I was making and she added them to the grocery list on her phone.
When I got done she looked at me quizzically and asked, “So how much chocolate do you need?”
“I don’t need any chocolate.”
“Well, there isn’t any in the house, so how much should I get?”
“No, the recipe doesn’t call for any.”
“No chocolate!?! You’re making a dessert, right?”
“Dessert doesn’t always have to have chocolate in it.”
“Okay, I suppose…”
Butterscotch Pots de Crème
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup raw or brown sugar, packed
4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks
In a heavy, medium sauce pan, whisk together the butter and sugar over medium heat until they begin to melt into each other. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to brown. Be careful that the sugar does not burn. One of the keys to butterscotch is that lightly scorched taste. So don’t be afraid to back off the heat a little at this point and gently roll up to that fine line between browned and burned.
When the butterscotch is the dark, reddish-brown of an old penny and just at the point where it starts to smell smoky, remove the pan from the heat and pour in one cup of the cream in a thin stream, whisking continuously.
Note: The butterscotch will not like this in the least.
It will hiss and spit at you and start to harden up. Keep the pan over medium heat and keep stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the rest of the cream, vanilla, and salt and continue cooking until the mixture just begins to boil.
Remove from heat and taste. Having the right amount of vanilla and salt is essential to having butterscotch taste like butterscotch, so feel free to make adjustments at this point.
Whisk the egg yolks together in a medium bowl. To combine the eggs and butterscotch without cooking the eggs you need to temper them by slowly whisking some of the hot butterscotch into the yolks. Do this a quarter cup at a time until you have warmed the yolks slightly.
Slowly pour the warmed yolks into the pot of butterscotch and whisk to combine.
Preheat your oven to 325°F and bring a large pot or kettle of water to boil on the stove.
Arrange your serving dishes (demitasse cups, teacups or ramekins work fine) in a large baking or roasting pan. Fill each serving dishes about half to two-thirds full of the butterscotch custard mix. Slowly add the hot water to the pan surrounding the serving dishes until the water is level with the filling inside.
Slide the whole works into the oven and tent loosely with foil.
Bake for 30 minutes then check to see to see how they are setting up. Total baking time can vary a lot depending on the temperature of the mixture when you put it in the oven and size and shape of your serving dishes. You want the tops and edges to be firmly set, but they should still be a bit jiggly in the middle – about 150°F internal. They will firm up as they cool.
Remove from water bath and let cool, then stash in the fridge until chilled, at least 2 hours.
To serve – remove them from the fridge about 20 minutes before serving and dollop with some whipped cream or drizzle with a bit of chocolate syrup.
Pots of cream – the name says it all – rich, thick, smooth, and custardy. Almost burning the sugar not only took the edge off the sweetness but also and gave it a really deep and complex flavor.
To quote my dear wife, “Wow, these are great, and I didn’t think I even liked butterscotch!”