Despite looking, sounding and tasting rather fancy and impressive, butterscotch pots de creme are among the most quick, adaptable and simple to make of all desserts. These traditional French baked custards are sinfully silky, velvety smooth and deeply flavored by the rich taste of caramelized sugar. A final flourish of flaky sea salt and a dollop of creme fraiche elevates these pots de creme to divine territory.

Four ramekins of prepared pots de creme.

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  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2  eggs
  • 5 egg yolks 
  • 1/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt 

For the best result, begin by measuring out all of your ingredients.

Ingredients measured out in separate bowls.

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Heat the oven to 300 F / 150 C. Arrange four to six heatproof ramekins in a baking dish or roasting pan set upon a baking tray. Bring a kettle of water to a boil.

Empty ramekins on a baking dish.

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In a medium saucepan, bring the heavy cream and whole milk to a gentle rolling boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Cream and milk being poured into a saucepan.

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Meanwhile, place the butter and brown sugar in a separate large saucepan set over medium to low heat. Stirring the mixture occasionally with a heatproof spatula, cook until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture begins to bubble and turn golden caramel in color, roughly 15 minutes.

Tips

  • At first the butter and sugar will separate, but as the sugar begins to melt, it will come together to caramelize.

Saucepan with a scoop of brown sugar and cubes of butter.

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Pour the hot cream mixture into the large saucepan with the caramelized brown sugar, and whisk constantly until the seething mixture settles down and is smooth. Add in the vanilla extract and remove from the heat.

Hand whisking ingredients in a saucepan.

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In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, superfine sugar and sea salt until smooth and well combined.

Hand whisking a bowl of eggs, yolks and sugar.

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Add a drizzle of the warm cream and sugar mixture to the egg mixture, and whisk vigorously to combine. Using this drizzle and whisk technique, slowly add in a quarter more of the cream mixture. Once the eggs are safely acclimatized to the heat, add the remaining cream and sugar mixture in a steady stream, whisking until uniform and combined.

Liquid measuring cup pouring hot cream into bowl with egg mixture.

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Whisk in glass bowl full of mixture.

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Strain the mixture into a large liquid measuring cup, and then pour it into the ramekins.

Pouring mixture into ramekins fo baking.

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Pour enough of the just-boiled water into the baking dish or roasting pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Ramekins on baking tray ready to be put in the oven.

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Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the pots de creme are set around the outside but have a slight jiggle in the center.

Baking the pots de creme.

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Let the pots de creme cool in the baking dish or roasting pan for 10 minutes before carefully transferring them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Let the pots de creme cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating for at least 2 hours before serving.

Finished pots de creme cooling on wire rack.

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Garnish with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt and a dollop of whipped cream or creme fraiche.

Spooning whipped cream over butterscotch pots de creme.

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