Salted Caramel Pot de Creme
It doesn’t even need it, but if you really want to gild the lily, unsweetened whipped cream or creme fraiche are both fantastic toppings for this incredibly delicious dessert.
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream + 1/2 cup to whip up if topping
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split down the middle (don't have? use 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
4 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
sprinkling of flaky sea salt at the end
medium heavy bottomed sauce pan
whisk large bowl quart container or large measuring cup
fine mesh sieve
4 ramekins (or oven proof glass cups)
a baking dish that can hold the 4 cups
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Combine the cream and milk together in a small saucepan. Using the back of a knife, carefully scrape the seeds from the split vanilla bean. Add the seeds and the pod into the cream and milk mixture. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer, turn off the heat and set aside.
Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan. Turn the heat on medium and start to heat the sugar without stirring it. It will start to melt and as it does you want to swirl (not stir!) the pan to distribute any un-melted sugar. Once the sugar is melted let it cook until it turns deep amber, this takes about 3 minutes.
Little by little, (it will sputter) whisk the cream mixture (including the vanilla pod) into the caramel. At this point you will think you’ve ruined it. The caramel will harden into a crazy mess… don't worry! Keep whisking! You want to bring this to a boil, whisking the whole time until all your caramel has dissolved and your left with a beautiful coffee colored mixture. Turn off the heat.
In a large bowl whisk the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, kosher salt, and egg yolk for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until they are very well combined.
Starting with a small amount and working your way up, slowly add the hot cream mixture into the eggs, whisking the whole time.
Pass the mixture through a sieve into a quart container or large measuring cup. Using a spoon, skim off as much of the foam as possible.
Line your baking dish with a paper towel. This helps ensure the ramekins won't slide around. Place your ramekins in the baking dish and evenly distribute the mixture among them.
Fill the baking dish with hot tap water until it reaches about 1” from the top of the ramekins. Cover the baking dish in foil, poke 2 small holes at either ends with a knife. Place on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 35 - 40 minutes. When done, the custards will still jiggle slightly when you shake the pan and the tops will be darker. Take them out, remove them from the baking dish and let cool. Wrap the top in plastic and let completely cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Take them out 15 minutes before you want to eat, top with flaky salt and serve!