Vanilla Bean Pots de Crème
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A few weeks ago, I snuck up to see my auntie in VT, where I spent most of the time on the couch in front of the fire, dogs at my feet, cookbook in my lap.
I was in a baking sort of mood and found myself engrossed in the dessert chapter of Bouchon, drooling over images of bouchon au chocolat (cork-shaped, brownie-like cakes) and dreaming of crème anglaise-soaked French toast.
As I flipped through the pages, I drafted an ambitious grocery list, along with a mental wishlist of gadgets, including pots de crème vessels, flexi-timbale pans, and this Bouchon Mold, which I can’t stop thinking about.
Lucky for me, my aunt has an arsenal of mini ramekins and espresso cups, which worked beautifully for the two recipes I settled on: vanilla bean pots de crème and dark chocolate mousse, both of which were wildly well received, the pots de crème in particular. Heavy cream, sugar, vanilla bean, egg yolks — it would have been a serious let down if it hadn’t been anything but spectacular, which it was, tasting like untorched crème brulée, but better, with the smoothest, most velvety texture, perfectly sweet, deeply satisfying in every which way.
When I returned home, I almost placed an order for lidded pots de crème molds, which couldn’t be cuter but which I suspect might be uni-taskers, and I’ve made that mistake before. Instead, I placed an order for these mini Weck jars, which I’ve had my eye on ever since my mother gave me one filled with paté that had been packaged and sold in the Weck jar. It’s the cutest size — would be perfect for jams, chutneys, homemade face scrubs (if you’re into that sort of thing?) — and thinking ahead to next holiday season, I would love to have a stash on hand to package as gifts the paté I discovered this winter.
You, of course, can use 4- or 6-oz ramekins here, which is a nice size, too, but there is something really nice about this teensy size, which won’t allow you to think twice about eating two (or ten).Print
Vanilla Bean Pots de Crème
- Total Time: 10 hours
- Yield: 8 servings
Source: Thomas Keller’s Bouchon
I just purchased a set of these mini Weck jars and love them especially for these pots de crèmes, which are traditionally baked in lidded vessels. The original recipe calls for using eight 5- or 6-oz pot de crème molds. Of course, if you have 4- or 6-oz ramekins, those will work, too. The mini Weck jars are much smaller (2.7-oz), which is kind of nice for such a rich dessert, but again, use what you have.
Chocolate variation: Finely chop 6 ounces semisweet chocolate and place in a metal bowl. Then, in step 2, when you strain the mixture, strain it into a saucepan instead of a measuring cup. Heat the custard until it is warm, then pour it over the chocolate, let it sit to melt, then whisk it together until it has combined. Proceed with recipe.
- 2½ cups heavy cream
- ⅔ cup milk
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 6 egg yolks
- Combine cream, milk, and 5 tablespoons (1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon) of the sugar. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream, and drop in the empty pod as well. Heat mixture until it’s hot to touch and sugar has dissolved, then remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let it steep for an hour (if possible).
- Whisk the egg yolks and remaining ¼ cup sugar together. Re-heat the cream mixture till it’s warm to the touch — not hot. Slowly whisk a small amount of the cream mixture into the yolks to temper them. Continue adding the warm cream until all of it has been added. Strain the entire mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a pitcher or large measuring cup. At this point, the mixture can be refrigerated for several days.
- Place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 300º. Bring a teapot filled with water to a boil. Place pot de creme molds (see notes above) in a large deep baking pan (a 9×13-inch pan should fit all of the molds). Place the baking pan on a sheet pan: This will provide double the insulation so the custards can cook evenly and slowly. Gently stir the custard, then fill each vessel with it. Cover each mold with a lid or wrap each ramekin in plastic wrap — if this worries you, can simply bake the ramekins uncovered. It works fine.
- Place pan in the oven leaving a few inches sticking out to allow you to pour in the hot water from the teapot: pour in water to come in halfway to two-thirds up the sides of the molds. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 55 minutes — the cooking time will vary depending on the size of the vessel and if the custard was refrigerated or not. To test, reach into the oven and using a tea towel to protect your hand, gently shake one of the molds — the custard should be set, but will still jiggle slightly, like gelatin. Remove the molds from the hot water and place on a cooling rack.
- Let cool, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours before serving.
- Prep Time: 1 hour
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Dessert
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: vanilla, bean, pots de crème
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62 Comments on “Vanilla Bean Pots de Crème”
What an amazing coincidence! I just ordered a silicone mold for “bouchons”, but mine is coming from amazon.com, and cheaper than the one at WS.
I also have Bouchon Bakery cookbook, and have been dreaming of making a bath of these choc concoctions to surprise my beloved one of these days…
lovely pots de creme…
So funny, Sally! I will check out amazon…how could I have missed that?
I hope to see bouchons on your site soon! I think I have to maket them for valentine’s day 🙂
I am really tempted to make them as a surprise. I need to check the recipe carefully and see if I could pull it early in the morning. Phil usually makes the cappuccino for us, it would be amazing if I could get these warm from the oven….
will keep you posted….. (exciting!)
Just checking to make sure…I have never put plastic wrap on something and then baked it in the oven – this is safe??
Renee, it’s not ideal. It’s safe in that you won’t die and in that the plastic wrap won’t melt and ruin the food. I don’t love doing this, which is why I ordered the mini jars, which have lids. Even when I buy “safe/good” plastic wrap, it never feels good thinking about what chemicals might leach into the food. At the same time, I’ve rationalized in the past: what’s the harm every so often? Do what you feel comfortable doing. The recipe is from a chef cookbook, and I wanted to include the recipe’s original instructions. Hope that helps!
I just thought I’d add my two cents here. I make pots de creme quite often, although in different flavours. I came here for a good vanilla recipe (mine are in the oven now – thanks for the recipe!)
And I have to admit, I never cover mine to bake. Since I use ramekins, I don’t have lids and I just leave them open. As long as they’re in a water bath and I use a tea towel in the base of the large pan as well, to soften the heat distribution on the base of each dessert) – they’ll turn out just fine 🙂
Its actually a surprisingly hard recipe to stuff up! As long as you follow the steps, its my experience that it turns out perfect every time.
These look so good, and I have all the ingredients! I don’t have those adorable jars, but I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy them…
you need them Becky!
I, too, am disappointed in anything less than spectacular when it comes to baking. My husband loves custardy types of things baked in ramekins. Some years ago he found a beautiful set of small white ceramic bowls with tiny handles and lids, made in France, at a garage sale. I think there are eight in the set and they are in perfect condition. They were dirt cheap, like maybe $5 for the lot. They might be about 6 oz. They would be perfect for this recipe. I have been pondering what dessert to make this weekend. The question has been answered. The chocolate sounds divine for Valentine’s Day.
I know, oh, it’s painful when desserty recipes don’t turn out well. Those lidded ceramic dishes sound amazing and yes, would be perfect for these pots de cremes. Hope you like them and hope all is well!
oooo i wonder if this would work with coconut milk! they look DIVINE. xoxox
that would be amazing!
These look amazing! By a weird coincidence I am making pots de creme today too, but chocolate ones. I am tempted to make a batch of these next and offer my dinner guests both! Definitely will do them soon either way.
About the chocolate mousse needing something, I wonder if this would work: A trick I learned a while ago (from the book The Flavour Thesaurus) is to add a bit of cardamom when you are making chocolatey desserts. It may sound weird but it doesn’t really translate to a cardamom taste in the finished product, just adds a mysterious layer. I find it makes whatever chocolate you use taste more expensive.
But I think booze is a pretty solid idea too! 🙂
Have a great weekend! Will report back when I make these beauties.
So fun! I am dying to make a chocolate version, too, and think I might have to for Thanksgiving.
Great tip re cardamom! I have heard that coffee has this same affect, but I have never heard that about cardamom. Will definitely give it a shot. Can’t wait to hear how the vanilla pots de cremes turn out for you.
It is so true!!!! I add cardamon to my chocolate custard-y good and it gives a special taste 🙂
What perfect timing! I am going to visit my mother-in-law this weekend and wanted to make her pots de creme. She loves them! Your photos and description, “tasting like untorched creme brulee, but better” has me writing my grocery list!
Thanks for the mini Weck jars link. I love that they are multi-purpose. Tiny, too, which is perfect for parties and holidays when I make multiple desserts. How much guilt can you have after eating something so small?
Yay! I hope you like them, Trish! I find them to be about as good as it gets. And yes, you are so right, these would be perfect for a party…makes me want to order another set.
Also, I haven’t forgotten about the choc-chip cookies. I just haven’t been able to get to the co-op that sells those choc disks that I like. I should just order those chocolate feves and get going!
These look wonderful! Will have to try.
Weck jars–brilliant idea.
They look like absolute simple perfection. And the Weck jars are cute!
Aren’t they the cutest?!
After reading your post and realizing that I have the Bouchon cookbook (I have so many cookbooks), I impulsively just ordered the lidded pots de crème pots that you linked to. I can’t wait to try this recipe in the little vessels as soon as they arrive. Thank you for sharing.
What a fun discovery! I am still borrowing my aunt’s copy, but I think I’ll need to order one for myself too. So many recipes are calling my name! Can’t wait to hear how the lidded pots de creme pots work out!
Having gone to the store, bought vanilla and tiny ramekins and looked up the website for Weck jars my work is done till tomorrow when I make these little cuties! XoXo!
You are amazing! Loved your insta-pic. xoxo
The Pots de Creme looks wonderful! I want to make it but my Weck jars are 9.8 oz (290ml). Can I fill them half full to make a more appropriate serving?
YEs, of course! A half-full 9.8-oz jar sounds like a perfect serving. Just be sure to start checking for doneness around 30 minutes. It might take as long as 45 minutes or even longer, but, you never know.
I love everything about TK’s baking recipes, down to his demand that I use 56 grams of eggs. In searching for a bouchon pan here in Abu dhabi I came across one at ikea of all places. I don’t know if the swedes make a tall muffin but it’s the perfect mold for a bouchon (of which I made 27 yesterday as party favors for shepherd’s 5th bday party).
oh my gosh, you’re amazing. Also, you just gave me a little heart attack thinking I had totally forgotten Ella’s birthday. did you celebrate early? Or are you freezing for later? I’m so glad to know you approve of TK’s bouchons. Ordering a pan immediately.
I always get ready to swoon when you begin a post with “I snuck off to see my Auntie in VT”. I love these pots de creme! We went to an amazing brunch spot in Portland last October and they had these very same Weck jars on the table for serving jam and butter! It was all I could do to keep myself from sneaking them into my purse! Beautiful recipe and a great idea!
Oh, Tracey, you are so sweet 🙂 Thank you. I know, the weck jars are darling, right? When we went to Montreal this summer, one restaurant placed little votive candles inside the same weck jars…so cute! Your wedding looked beautiful — I tried to comment but it wasn’t going through?! So odd, need to figure out what is happening. It has been happening on a number of wordpress blogs I follow. Boo.
How funny that you should post this when I just bought those exact same Weck jars the weekend before last – I’m currently using them to transport dressings, pestos and the like to the office for lunches. These pots de creme look absolutely divine – I shall not be able to resist making them soon!
Alexandra, I made these last weekend and they are little pots of delirium–that’s what they are. Just amazing.
These photos are some of your best, yet Ali! I could just dive into that tiny vanilla custard. The bean flecks are so dreamy. Lovely!
Thanks, Sophie! xoxo
Can you use silicone muffin molds instead of the ramekins?
Carmen, I don’t know! I would imagine that would be fine. You would still need to set it in a waterbath, and you would just have to keep an eye on it regarding doneness. Let me know if you try it out!
My 10-year-old daughter loves to cook and also loves anything French, so she picked this recipe as her weekend culinary experiment. The only step that I really had to help out with was pouring the water into the pan while the pots were already in the oven. The kettle was a little heavy!
They were incredible! We also tried the chocolate version – just as you suggested. They turned out perfectly, as well. They were more dense, but the flavor was great. We used ramekins and put saran wrap over them, topped with foil. Again – everything went great! She was very proud and her audience was very appreciative. Thank you for posting!!
I’m trying these out tonight but do not have the lidded jars. I’m using ramekins and thought the plastic wrap idea was weird? Would it not melt? I did put them on originally but it started to melt so I’ve removed them. Do they have to be covered?
Hi Gia! Sorry for the delay here. How did they turn out? I don’t think they have to be covered, but I think the point of the cover is to prevent them from forming a crust on the top layer.
I tried the recipe and i added coffee beans whole to the steeping mixture and then strained them off. The flavor was outstanding and i followed the recipe to a tee but the custard just never set. I wonder what went wrong? Any thoughts?
Hmmm, strange. What size vessles were you using? Were the vessels covered? About how long did you cook them? You know, water baths are tricky because they keep the temperature nice and low, but they do make it trickier to gauge time. Is it possible that they just needed to cook longer?
I used 4 ounce jelly canning jars. I inverted the canning lids and placed on top for baking. I am not sure if inverting them was necessary, but I didn’t want them to seal. Then when they were cool I screwed the lids on to place them in the refrigerator. This worked really well. I also used two Madagascar vanilla beans which was extra delicious. Great recipe.
So smart! I love this idea. And I think you were right to invert them — they may have sealed. Extra vanilla beans sounds delicious … yum!
I followed the recipe, but they didn’t set… I left them in the oven for literally hours, yet nothing. I did take them out once, because the saran wrap started to melt… So I took that off and put foil over them, but still. I did have cups that were probably like, at least 1 cup in volume, but still. The surface looks like all the oil went to the top. I’m sure they’ll taste okay, I’ll just have to find something else to do with them, if they don’t set in the fridge. I did add 6oz. of chocolate, so maybe the extra moisture came from there. I don’t know. But I’d want to make these again so I’d just want to know what went wrong.
These look great! But by 300° you mean 300 Fahrenheit not Celsius, right?
Hi! Do you think that this enough firm to use it like filling in a cake? (Creme brulee style cake).
Gosh, I can’t really say, but it’s definitely not as thick as a lemon curd … wish I could help more.
Thank you! Bravo!
I usually like fail-proof ez recipes but love this genre, yet never know if I’ve made breakfast or dessert.
Halved the recipe, was perfection, the creamiest, most luxurious texture.
So happy to hear this, Susan!
I made this recipe today. I used Oui yogurt jars and did not cover them. Curious why mine look so much darker? I used a local farmers eggs and the yolks are very orange. They are chilling now! Cain’t wait to try them!
Oh yay! Hope you love them, Nia! I wonder if the combination of not covering them as well as the super orange yolks attributed to the darker color?
I have never purchased vanilla beans. I find it intimidating as there are so many available and they are very expensive. Should I buy on Amazon? Where do you get yours?
Hi Joy! They indeed are expensive. Someone emailed me recently asking the same thing, and the most reasonably priced beans I found were in fact on Amazon. I’ve paid as much as $13 for 1 bean at the grocery store, so I think ordering online is the way to go.
Incredible. I’ve made this recipe three times now in the last two months. My husband loves it too and he normally doesn’t like sweets.
Wonderful to hear this, Nicole 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing.
It’s strange that on his Masterclass lesson in this recipe he does NOT bake them at all.
I’m confused. If pots de creme are to be baked, as shown in his book Bouchon, how come the same dish he teaches to make without baking on Masterclass. Com?
Hi Yair. I wonder if it’s a different recipe on Masterclass? Maybe that one doesn’t have eggs? Is it more of a panna cotta with gelatin?