This holiday season, Curtis Stone knows how to pack a punch of flavor into a dessert perfect for parties. Able to be prepared two days in advance, Stone's baked custards are garnished with salt to heighten the caramel flavor. "A pinch of salt makes for the most luxuriously smooth pots de creme you'll ever have!" says Stone, whose Beverly Hills restaurant Maude was named Best New Restaurant by L.A. Weekly and Restaurant of the Year by Eater L.A..
Stone shares his dessert recipe, designed to serve eight, with Us Weekly.
Salted Caramel Pots de Creme
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
6 large egg yolks
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for garnish
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Place eight 1/2-cup (4-ounce) ovenproof cups, custard cups, or ramekins on a large baking pan.
2. In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the brown sugar and kosher salt. Using the tip of a small sharp knife, scrape the vanilla seeds from the bean, add to the butter mixture, and drop in the bean. Stir for about five minutes, or until the mixture has the texture of thick sand and has taken on a nutty, caramel fragrance.
3. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gradually whisk in the heavy cream. The mixture will bubble vigorously and will seize when the cream is added. Whisk for about five minutes, or until the hardened sugar bits dissolve and the mixture begins to boil. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the milk.
4. In a large bowl, stir the egg yolks to blend. Gradually whisk in the warm caramel mixture. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a 4-cup liquid measuring cup or a bowl with a spout. Pour the custard into the cups, dividing it equally. Cover the pan with aluminum foil, leaving one corner uncovered. Place the pan in the oven and carefully pour enough hot water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the cups, then cover the open corner with the foil. Bake the custards for about 50 minutes, or until they are just set around the edges but still jiggle slightly when the cups are gently shaken. (Be very careful of escaping steam when you uncover the pan.)
5. Remove the cups from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about one hour. Cover each cup with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least four hours, or up to two days.
6. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt over each pot de creme and serve chilled. Serves 8.
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