Salted caramel pot de creme is a rich and decadent custard dessert. They’re the perfect easy, make-ahead dessert to impress anyone!
Pot de creme is one of those overlooked desserts. They sound super fancy, impress most everyone, and taste rich and decadent. But best of all, they’re an easy make-ahead dessert, as they need time to chill in the fridge to firm up. This means you have plenty of time to plan out dinner or the rest of the evening and not have to worry about dessert! And though I’ve made mocha pots de creme and chocolate pots de creme, for all those folks who don’t like chocolate (strange but they exist!) here’s a recipe for my husband’s favorite non-chocolate desert, caramel pot de creme!
What is a pot de crème?
Pot de crème is a French name that translates to “Pots of Cream” or “Pots of Custard.” It is a custard-based dessert that is similar to pudding in flavor and texture. Pots de crème have been around since 17th century where they were originally created in a crust (like a pie), but slowly they evolved where the custard was baked without a crust in a ceramic pot or vessel.
The main difference between the pots de crème and pudding is how the custard is thickened. Pudding is normally thickened with both eggs and/or egg yolks as well as starch (often cornstarch). Pots de crème are thickened just with egg yolks and are baked slowly in the water bath to help firm up the custard.
Because pots de crème are thickened with just egg yolk, the resulting flavor and texture is a richer, silkier and more decadent than puddings.
How do you make caramel pot de crème?
Making caramel pot de crème starts with making a caramel sauce. First you cook the sugar in a pan until it caramelizes. Then you slowly drizzle in milk and cream to create a caramel sauce.
Once the sauce is made, drizzle the hot liquid into a bowl of egg yolks slowly. Then divide the custard into jars or ramekins and bake the jars in a water bath until the center just jiggles slightly. Chill in the fridge until firm.
Here’s a video to show you how easy it is to make salted caramel pot de creme.
What’s the best way to make caramel?
Making caramel can be scary and sounds dangerous but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some tips on making caramel:
- Use a silver or light colored pot to make the caramel if you have never made caramel before. Lighter colored surfaces will help show the color of the sugar as it caramelizes so you can keep track of how dark the caramel turns.
- Caramel goes from golden brown to dark brown to black and burnt pretty fast. So watch it like a hawk once the sugar melts and starts to brown.
- Make sure to use a lower heat if you are unsure about making caramel. Once the sugar starts brown you can even remove the pan from the heat and let the residual heat of the pan continue to cook the sugar darker. You can always return the pan to the heat to darken the caramel if you need to, but you can’t reverse it.
- Heat the cream and milk that you will add to the caramelized sugar. This will help keep the caramel from seizing up.
- Keep in mind that as you add the dairy, the caramel will sputter and steam a lot. Add a little bit of time and stir to incorporate it. Then add more. Repeat until all the dairy is incorporated.
- Don’t worry if the caramel does harden and seize up. Heat the caramel on low after you’ve added all the dairy and stir until all the harden parts dissolve.
- And if you’re extra nervous, place a large bowl of ice water next to the pot just in case something happens and you need to dunk you hand in it. You never know!
What is a water bath and why do you need to use it?
The pots de crème are baked in a water bath. This means the jars or ramekins are placed in a baking pan or roasting pan and hot water is poured into the pan around the jars/ramekins before baking in the oven.
The water bath prevents the pots de crème from baking too fast, as the water can only heat up to 212°F. This, along with keeping the enclosed oven environment moist, helps the custard cook slowly, for a silkier and smooth texture.
Don’t skip the water bath, as the pot de creme will bake too fast, resulting in an overbaked custard with an unpleasant texture.
Can you make pots de crème ahead of time? How do you store it?
Pots de crème needs to be made ahead of time. Chill the pots de crème for a minimum of 4 hours in the refrigerator or overnight. You can store the pots de crème in the fridge for up to 3 days. Cover the top of the custard with plastic wrap touching the surface of the custard if you want to avoid forming a skin on the pots de crème.
If you like these Salted Caramel Pots de Crème check out these other caramel recipes:
- Salted Caramel stuffed chocolate cookies
- Salted Caramel Bars with cashews
- Salted Caramel Drink
- Rye Brownies with Salted Caramel
- Brookie Caramel Bars
And here are few other pots de creme recipes I’ve found online:
- Stovetop Chocolate Pots de Crème
- Vegan and Paleo Chocolate Pots de Crème
- Pumpkin Pots de Crème
- Maple Pots de Crème
- Meyer Lemon Pots de Crème
Salted Caramel Pot de Crème
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar 250 g
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Boiling water
- Maldon sea salt or other flaky finishing salt like Fleur de Sel Sel de Gris, Cypress flake salt or Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.Place the cream and milk in a medium saucepan and heat the dairy until bubbles starts to form on the edges of the pan. Turn the heat off and cover the pan.Place the sugar in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with a silver bottom (avoid nonstick, as the dark coating will make it hard to judge the caramel color). Turn the heat to medium-high, stirring occasionally with a heat proof silicon spatula or wooden spoon. As the sugar melts, continue to stir and shake the pan so all the sugar melts evenly. Once the sugar starts to brown, turn the heat off and let the residual heat of the pan continue to caramelize the sugar. You want the caramel to turn a dark golden brown, closer to chestnut but not mahogany black.
- Drizzle the warm dairy into the sugar, carefully just a little bit as the caramel will sputter and steam alarmingly, stirring as the liquid is added, until all the liquid is incorporated. Continue until all the dairy is incorporated. If the caramel seizes up and solidifies, turn the heat to medium-low and stir until the harden caramel has dissolved.
- Place the egg yolks and salt in a bowl and stir together with a whisk.
- Stir with the whisk and drizzle the hot caramel a tiny bit at a time. You want to slowly heat up the yolks a tiny bit of a time, without scrambling them. Continue to drizzle and add the caramel, whisking the entire time, until all the caramel is incorporated. Stir in the vanilla.
- Pour the custard through a sieve to ensure it is silky smooth. Then divide the custard into 6 small ramekins or small 1/2 pint jars. Place ramekin/jars in a baking pan or roasting pan. Place the pan in the oven and carefully pour the boiling water into the baking/roasting pan around the ramekins/jars until it comes up about halfway up the ramekins/jars. Bake the pots de crème for 35 to 40 minutes and remove from the oven. The center of the custard will wiggly slightly but it firms up as it cools.Let the custard cool for 20 minutes in the pan, and then move the jars to the refrigerator to cool and set for 4 hours or overnight.Right before serving, sprinkle the finishing salt over the pots de crème and serve.