~ Lemon Thyme Pots de Creme with Lemon Sugar ~
The California weather has officially exorcised any trace of a wintry climate. Blue skies, blooming trees and air that feels like butter is the status quo at the moment. Spring is in the air, and consequently I am craving lemons. February is peak lemon season, which spans winter to spring in California. Lemon’s bright acidity is a welcome bite of sunshine on a plate, and fortunately very portable for those of you still knee-deep in snow and far from the California.
These pots de creme are redolent with lemon, and they are a breeze to make. Creamy and comforting, this dessert will brighten your day, no matter the weather outside. Begin the pots de creme one day in advance, so they may chill overnight.
Lemon Thyme Pots de Creme with Lemon Sugar
Pots de Creme:
2 cups (500 ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon zest
2 to 3 sprigs thyme
Pinch of sea salt
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Heat oven to 325 F. Place 6 (6-ounce) ramekins in a deep baking dish.
Combine cream, zest, thyme and salt in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes to infuse the flavors. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl until light. Add cream in a steady stream, whisking constantly to combine. Pour through a fine-meshed sieve into a pitcher, pressing on the solids to extract flavor. Pour the cream into ramekins. Pour boiling water into pan, halfway up sides of ramekins. Loosely cover with foil. Bake until center is set but still wobbly, about 45 minutes. Remove ramekins from water bath. Cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Before serving, make the lemon sugar. Whisk the zest and sugar in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the pots de creme. Garnish with thyme sprigs.
If you like this, you might enjoy these lemony recipes:
Meyer Lemon Olive Oil Cake from Healthy Green Kitchen
Lemon Cake Pie from Sippity Sup
French Lemon Yogurt Cake from Liz the Chef
Lemon Bars from TasteFood
Inspiration comes in many packages. These chocolate orange pots de creme are the result of a baking mistake. I set out to make them for a recent dinner party with this result in mind – however I forgot to cover the ramekins while they baked in the oven. Covering the ramekins allows the chocolate to set without a thicker top crust forming and detracting from a smooth and creamy consistency throughout the entire pudding. My pots de creme were smooth and creamy on the inside, all right, but the top had a firmer mottled texture. The taste was the same, but not the look. So, I decided to cover the surface with a granular topping which would provide a pleasing and distracting crunch while hiding my mistake. I rubbed the zest of an orange into a bowl of sugar. The sugar helped to separate the grains of zest and suspend them in granular animation, while the orange added a colorful tinge to the sugar. To serve, I garnished each ramekin with a dollop of whipped cream and showered the cream and chocolate with the orange sugar. To top it off I sprinkled a few grains of fleur de sel over each. It was delicious. The orange sugar added a confectionary crunch before dissolving in the mouth, leaving a lingering wisp of sea salt. I love it when mistakes like this happen.
Chocolate Orange Pots de Creme with Fleur de Sel
Begin 1-2 days before serving. Makes enough for 6 (3/4 cup) ramekins or 12 espresso cup servings.
For the pots de creme:
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Cointreau or Gran Marnier
For the whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 teaspoons Gran Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
For the orange sugar:
Finely grated zest from one untreated navel orange
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Fleur de Sel (or flakes of another sea salt, such as Maldon)
Make the pots de creme:
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan over medium heat until it reaches a simmer. Remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate until melted and smooth.
Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until blended. Add the cream in a steady stream, whisking to combine. Whisk in Cointreau. Strain through a fine meshed sieve into another bowl. Cool 5 minutes. Pour into ramekins or espresso cups. Place the ramekins in a baking pan. Fill the pan with boiling water half way up the ramekins. Cover ramekins with foil and transfer to oven. Bake until set, but still a little wobbly when jiggled, about 55 minutes for ramekins and 45 minutes for espresso cups. Remove from water bath and remove foil. Cool completely. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Make the whipped cream:
Beat the cream in a bowl of an electric mixer until traces of the whisk appear. Add sugar and Gran Marnier. Continue to beat until peaks form.
Make the orange sugar:
Combine zest and sugar in a small bowl. Rub with fingers to evenly distribute the zest.
To serve, sprinkle each ramekin evely with the orange sugar. Spoon a dollop of cream over the center. Sprinkle with additional sugar and a few grains of fleur de sel.
If you like this you might enjoy these recipes:
Dark Chocolate Pudding from Whipped
Chocolate Orange Truffles from the Kitchn
Chocolate Dipped Orange Peel Cookies from Use Real Butter
Cranberry Orange Trifle with Candied Walnuts from TasteFood
Chocolate Pots de Crème are an entertainer’s best friend. They may be prepared up to 2 days in advance and are very easy to make. With just a little finesse, and some high quality chocolate, you can be sure to wow your guests. Depending on the vessel in which they are served, they are an appropriately small shot of rich chocolate following a heavy meal, or a moreish serving for the chocoholics at the table. Keep it simple with straight-up chocolate, or dress it up with Gran Marnier. This recipe is a keeper.
Chocolate Pots de Crème with Gran Marnier
This recipe requires refrigeration before serving for at least 6 hours. For best results, prepare at least one day before serving. Makes 6 large or 12 small servings.
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
6 ounces high quality dark chocolate (70-72%), finely chopped
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon Gran Marnier or Cointreau (optional)
Gran Marnier Whipped Cream
Candied orange peel and/or raspberries for garnish
Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.) Combine cream and milk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove and add chocolate, whisking until melted and thoroughly incorporated. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla together in a large bowl. Slowly add chocolate to the eggs, whisking constantly. Mix in Gran Marnier if using. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into another bowl. Blot foam from the top of the chocolate with a paper towel or skim with a spoon.
Pour chocolate into demi-tasse cups or 3/4 cup ramekins. Cover each cup with foil. Place cups in a large baking pan. Pour boiling water into the pan until it reaches half-way up the side of the cups. Bake until the chocolate is set but still wobbles in the middle, about 40 – 50 minutes depending on the size of the cups. Remove and transfer cups to a wire rack; cool. Cover and refrigerate pots de crème at least 6 hours (or overnight). Bring to room temperature before serving.
Serve with Gran Marnier Whipped Cream. Garnish with candied orange peel or raspberries.
Gran Marnier Whipped Cream:
Before serving, beat 1/2 cup heavy cream in bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Whisk in 2 tablespoons sifted confectioners’ sugar and 2 teaspoons Gran Marnier and beat until stiff peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.
If you like this, you might enjoy these TasteFood recipes:
Rich Chocolate Brownies
Chocolate Mousse with Raspberries and Cream
and these chocolate recipes from the food blogs:
German Chocolate Cake from David Lebovitz
Chocolate Sheet Cake from The Pioneer Woman
Chocolate Macarons from Ms. Adventures in Italy