Just because I write a food blog, do not be fooled into thinking I actually know what I am doing in the kitchen. Oh, how I dream of being one of those elegant Bree Van de Kamp types, who effortlessly breezes through the kitchen, leaving behind her nothing but sparkling work surfaces and delicious simple French desserts. Alas, this is not what our creator had in store for me. I am one of those ‘bull in a china shop’ type of cooks (and people generally). It is rare that I make it through a recipe without breaking, spilling or burning something. As I crunch sugar across the kitchen floor, sweep up broken glass, or try to render a burned cake edible, I sometimes find it amusing that I write a food blog, and some people seem to think that I’m a whizz in the kitchen.
Most of the time the end result is fine and what I lack in skill (and luck) I can usually make up for in presentation and creativity. This is why simple recipes, those which limit opportunities for disaster, always appeal to me, and ultimately win me over.
And so, when I saw the recipe for these vanilla petits pots de crème, I was tempted by the purity of the ingredients, the nonchalance of the instructions, and the elegance of this little unassuming French dessert. It was probably something to do with Béa from La Tartine Gourmande‘s description of eating these little pots of goodness as a child growing up in the French countryside.
Simplicity aside, I still managed my usual quota of kitchen disasters including breaking my favourite glass jar and successively undercooking and then overcooking the petits pots de creme. However, the brave remnants were actually quite tasty. After cooling in the fridge for the required few hours (how I hate recipes that don’t allow you to pounce and devour immediately) these little desserts were smooth, cool, and refereshing. They were, perhaps, a tinge too eggy for me, and not something I would make again and again. But a nice change from a flour-based pastry, cookie or cake. Made mainly from eggs and milk, they are not excessively rich – in fact, I had my first little pot at eleven this morning.
Vanilla Petits Pots de Crème
(for 4-6 ramekins or small jars, according to size)
Recipe adapted from La Tartine Gourmande
2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
1/3 cup blond cane sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
1. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla bean and seeds. Bring to a boil and then stop the heat, cover and let infuse for 30 minutes. Filter.
2. Preheat your oven to 320 F.
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolk with the sugar, then add the hot milk slowly while beating.
4. Pour the vanilla cream into small ramekins or jars — make sure to remove the foam that might have formed on top — and place them in a dish filled with hot water, so that they are half immersed.
5. Place in the oven and cook for betweem 35 to 40 minutes. Check regularly after 30 minutes. The middle of the creams should still be moving a little — they will settle once they cool down.
6. Take the jars or ramekins out and let them cool down. Cover with plastic wrap and place them in the fridge to rest for a few hours before eating. I tried to eat it while still warm but it was a waste. Be patient. This is meant to be a cold dessert. Enjoy!