Abby Dodge is one of the most accessible cookbook authors out there. Friendly and full of support, she’ll lend an ear or a helping hand on Twitter any time. It’s no surprise that she started a group where we could virtually bake together, jumping off from her recipes and adding our own twists.
I only sporadically participate in #BakeTogether. It seems to always get away from me, despite my admiration for Abby and my connection with those who often frequent her monthly gatherings. It tends to be the end of the month when I see a tweet that sets off the light bulb and the next thing I know, it’s already too late.
Yesterday afternoon, a similar tweet came across my screen. I could have dismissed it, but I commented and the next thing you know, Abby was encouraging me to work on a last minute entry. How could I resist? I had other baking plans for the evening, but I squeezed this in, too. It was totally worth staying up until 1AM.
Vanilla is the theme for February, and pots de crème were the recipe of choice; a perfect way to let the humble vanilla bean shine through without any distractions. Of course, I added my own distractions–I could hardly help it–with the addition of a lime tequila sauce and a sprinkling of toasted flaked coconut. It’s my version of Calgon–I need a tropical destination, and the only one in sight is the one in my mind.
Pots de crème are actually quite easy. The only problem is time. I glossed over the ingredients list and managed to forget that the custard will need to set for a while after it’s baked (hence why my post is absolutely just barely under the wire here for Abby’s deadline!). The lime tequila sauce makes plenty of extra so you can douse just about anything edible in sight with it. Or throw more tequila in, a little seltzer, and call it a day. (I wonder if I have any seltzer…)
I did not alter the pots de crème recipe much, so the recipe below is mostly faithful to the original. I still recommend going to Abby Dodge because she has a fantastic tutorial that takes you step-by-step through the process. And don’t forget to check out who else joined the very vanilla party this month. There are some awesome adaptations–clearly we have a very talented group of bakers here! Maybe next month you’ll participate, too? I should mark it on my calendar. It’s sure to be a “don’t miss” occasion!
- 1 vanilla bean split, or 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract or paste
- 1¾ cup organic half & half
- 5 large egg yolks
- ¼ cup (1¾ ounces) organic granulated sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Measure the half & half in a 2-cup glass liquid measuring cup.
- Using the tip of a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle, then scoop out the seeds with the narrow part of a spoon. Add the seeds and vanilla bean pieces to the half & half and heat the mixture in the microwave until very hot, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Cover with a kitchen towel and let the mixture steep for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours. The longer the half & half and the vanilla bean and seeds steep, the more pronounced the vanilla flavor.
- Make sure your oven rack is in the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 325°F.
- Place 4 6-ounce (3/4-cup) ramekins in a baking pan with 2-inch high sides.
- In a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks, sugar, and salt until well blended.
- Uncover the half & half slowly pour it in, vanilla bean pieces and all, into the yolk mixture, whisking all the while. Whisk until well blended.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula until thickened and it coats the back the spatula (170-172°F on an instant read or candy thermometer), about 4 to 5 minutes (mine took longer, but I may have had the heat lower).
- Remove the pan from the heat and fish out the vanilla bean pieces, scraping any custard from the pod back into the custard. (If using vanilla extract or paste instead, stir it in.)
- Pour the custard into the ramekins, being careful not to slop it all over the place.
- Carefully fill the baking pan with hot tap water coming halfway up the sides of the ramekins and cover the pan loosely with foil.
- Bake until the pots de crème wiggle like Jell-o when nudged, about 35 to 45 minutes, depending on thickness of the ramekin walls.
- Remove the baking pan from the oven and transfer the ramekins to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
- Once cooled, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or up to 2 days before serving.
And for the sauce…
- ⅓ cup organic sugar
- 1 Tablespoon organic cornstarch
- 1 cup filtered water
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1½ limes)
- 2 teaspoons tequila
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch. Add the water and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula.
- Once the mixture has boiled and thickened (but not darkened too much into a caramel), remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
- Add the lime juice and tequila and whisk it together.
- Allow to cool completely before using. If it's not thick enough once it's cooled, you can try heating it in the microwave for 30-second intervals until it's thickened more. (But then you'll have to let it cool again before using.)
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To assemble, scoop a bit out of the center of the pots de crème and fill with lime tequila sauce. Sprinkle toasted unsweetened flaked coconut (that’s a mouthful!) over the top. Dig in and enjoy!