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All About Pots de Creme
  by Barbara Bowman

Pots de Creme refers to both the custard dessert as well as the small lidded pots this dessert is served in. Pots de creme, or pot-au-creme translates from French to English as "pot of cream".  The French do not have a word for "custard" the dish is simply referred to as "creme". The pots may also be referred to as "petits pots".   Technically the pots de creme is a lightly set, baked custard.  The "traditional" proportions for this dessert is one whole egg to every five egg yolks for 2 1/2 to 3 cups of liquid.  A dessert made with these basic proportions will yield a barely firm custard.  This is why the custard is best served in small pots (or ramekins).  


How it is Made

The earliest version of this dessert was baked and chilled prior to serving in the little cups.  The method most common today is as follows.  Milk, heavy cream or half and half is heated and the flavoring (commonly chocolate) is melted after the liquid is removed from the burner. The eggs are whisked until smooth.  Then, the hot flavoring mixture is gently whisked into the eggs.  The custard should then be strained through a fine sieve to remove any bits of egg or chocolate not properly incorporated.  This will produce a very smooth custard. The empty cups are place in a baking dish. The mixture is poured into the cups until each is about 3/4 full. 

Baking
The custard is baked in a bath of hot water.  This process allows the eggs to cook slowly and evenly.  Hot water is added to the baking dish until the level reaches about half way up the sides of the pots.  The covers are put on the pots (or the baking dish covered with foil) to prevent a "skin" from forming on the top of the custard.  The custard is baked in a low to moderate oven for about 20 minutes.   It's important not to overcook the eggs because they will get "rubbery".   

Custard Flavors and Recipes
The traditional pots de creme flavor was vanilla but recipes can be found in many flavors including the very prominent chocolate as well as caramel, pumpkin or coffee.
Some of the recipes found for Pots de Creme are really more of a "moose" which contains either whipped cream or beaten egg whites.   For those seeking out a lower fat version we came up with a recipe for a "soy" version we call "Soy Dreams" (extra rich chocolate) which is excellent.  You may also want to try our unique and very easy to make Key Lime Pots de Creme which is just like a Key Lime pie without the crust.

Custard  History
Custards as we know them today date back to the Middle Ages
(Allen Davidson, Oxford Food Companion) when it was used as a filling for a Flan or a Tart. The word custard is derived from "crustade" which is a tart with a crust.  After the 16th century fruit creams became popular and it was about this time that custards were made in individual dishes rather than a filling in a crust.

And Now, Where These Little Cups Come From - Continued On Next Page...
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