08 September 2008

All Hail the Earl

My excuse for making pots de creme was all those egg yolks remaining after the espresso macaroons, but what resulted turned out to be so beyond leftovers.

Pots de creme are basically rich puddings, baked and then chilled in individual serving cups. But with such simple ingredients, a flavor like tea- Earl Grey, in this case- can be elevated to its original lofty status.

This particular recipe, originally from Martha Stewart Living, had been on my to-make list for years, so after a bit of a wait (but not much work), I was eager to taste.

When the first thick spoonful hit my tongue, I could do nothing but close my eyes and moan. There was suddenly creamy, sweet silk adorning my mouth, and a light floral scent positively redolent of opulence.

This is the fine lingerie of desserts: sexy, comforting and powerful enough to be used as a weapon.

I want one of these at every meal for the rest of my life.

Earl Grey Pots de Creme
Makes: 4 servings.

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons Earl Grey tea leaves
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon salt

1. In a small saucepan, bring cream and milk just to a boil over medium heat. Stir in tea and turn off heat; let steep for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

2. Heat oven to 325°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and salt. Reheat infused cream over medium heat, then slowly whisk into yolk mixture. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl, extracting as much liquid as possible without pressing on the tea leaves. Discard tea.

3. Arrange four 6-ounce ovenproof tea cups or ramekins in a baking pan large enough to hold them without touching each other. Carefully pour boiling water into pan, ensuring none splashes inside the cups, until water comes halfway up the sides of the cups.

4. Divide custard among cups. Cover pan tightly with foil, poking a few holes to let steam escape. Bake until custards are set but still slightly wobbly in centers, about 30 minutes.

5. Carefully remove pan from oven; remove foil. Transfer cups from hot water to a wire rack; let cool 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.

These full-bodied puddings need no adornment, but I wondered how a straight-up serving of Earl Grey would fare alongside it. After I devoured the first one, I paused before starting on the next to brew a hot cup.

From the initial sip, the tea had an incredible smoothness; the round flavor was strong and rich, as you'd expect a ruler to be, but not at all blunt or pushy like Napoleon. Its heat contrasted beautifully with the cool, satiny feel of the pot de creme.

Earl Grey tea usually benefits from a splash of milk, but alongside a dessert this creamy, it was completely unnecessary.

In fact, everything else in the world seems unnecessary after a few of these. What could possibly taste better than this? Ah, yes. A third one.


montague said...

earl grey is my favorite kind of tea! this sounds delectable!

avra romanowitz said...

it's so amazing that you're not chubby. three pots?

Bonbon Oiseau said...

aw man..do i actually need to make this for myself? can't i just place an order? looks sooo goooood...

Puzzles to Print said...

Ana - I made my own version of Chocolate Pot de Creme the other day, and I was searching for substitutes for the coffee my recipe calls for. Your brillant - tea of course. I'm trying this out.
That reminds me of another recipe I did recently that you might want to have a look at since your into tea. It's Prune Cake Recipe called a Far Breton in France. The traditional recipes for this call for soaking the prunes in tea, a step I left out, but now that you've got me thinking of tea. . .
Nice site you have - great photos!
A bientot.

Anonymous said...

I have such a sweet tooth. Simply reading this post is making it ache for a taste. Thanks for sharing. I abhor cooking, but if this recipe is as easy as you say it is, I may have to give it a whirl.

ana dane said...

brico, that sounds intriguing- soaking fruit in tea then incorporating it. prunes and i don't really get along, but i'm thinking some other dried fruits (cherries or apricots) could take well to a similar treatment. thanks for the suggestion.

and tea escapade, it really is a simple thing to make. one spoonful and you'll see how absolutely worth it it is.

Camille said...

In the winter my boys love earl grey on a cold morning. The pots de creme sounds fantastic. This is going on my "must make" list.