Here we are, about to embark on part 3 in a 3 part series about cooking easy French recipes from home. This entry will embrace the grand finale of your culinary journey, the dessert. As mentioned earlier in the series, recipes are used as a guideline, allowing for your creative juices to flow, substituting items in a recipe that stimulate your palate. But when it comes to baking, desserts and most pastries, precision is the only way to successfully execute a recipe. Where noted, substitutions can be made, but only do so if the recipe instructs you. Otherwise, follow the recipe and measurements to the letter.
As before, only use the freshest, quality ingredients that you can find. Since this will be your “piece de resistance”, it is important that you leave an impeccable impression on your family or guests. This will be your last chance to “wow” your captive audience with your flavors and presentation.
This dessert will consist of two parts: your main attraction, Pot de Creme; and your side show, Nut Brittle, used as decoration on your serving plate. Pot de Creme means, “pot of cream”. It is traditionally served in a small pot with a lid, but is most commonly served in some style of ramekin. Here is where you can utilize your creativity by finding a serving vessel to impress. You can choose individual portions or family style, using one large portion everyone can “grab” from. This is a fun way to keep things casual and interactive. Use relevant decorations that will compliment your dessert, such as chocolate shavings, nut brittle, fresh fruit, etc. If you put it on the plate, make sure it is edible.
Pot de Creme
- 8 fl. oz. milk
- 3 fl. oz. cream
- 1 each egg yolk
- 2 oz. sugar
- flavor (spices, herbs, caramel, coffee, chocolate, etc)
Scald milk and cream with flavor (if using chocolate, add 3 oz., of chocolate to scalding mixture and mix until melted. If using coffee or spices, scald and then steep until strength of flavor is achieved). In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Take scalded mixture and “temper” (slowly incorporate by whisking) with eggs and sugar mixture. Strain mixture to remove any loose herbs or spices. Pour strained mixture into ramekins and place on a hotel pan or sheet pan. Bring sheet pan to oven and pour cold water around ramekins until it reaches about half-way up the side. Bake at 300-325 degrees F, until the custard is set. Remove from oven and let come to room temperature, about 15-20 minutes. Chill completely before serving. Makes 4 servings.
- 4 oz sugar
- 2 fl. oz water
- 2 oz. light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup un-toasted nuts (hazelnuts, peanuts, almonds, etc.)
- 1/2 oz. butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
In a sauce pot, cook sugar, water, and syrup to a boil. Add un-toasted nuts. Cook the sugar to a dark caramel color, not the nuts. Remove from the heat and add butter, vanilla, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Pour mix onto a full-sized sheet pan fitted with a silpat mat, a non-stick sheet pan, or a sheet pan sprayed with pan spray for easy removal. Flatten out mix to 1/4 inch thick using a pan-sprayed rolling pin, another silpat mat, or the bottom side of another sheet pan that has been sprayed with pan spray. Let the mix set and cool, then break into small bite size pieces. Serve as a stand-alone or as decoration for your pot de creme.
Viola, happy eating!