Maple Pots de Creme
CIA Bootcamp, for me, was a bookend of sorts to my summer: when I left at the beginning of the week, summer was still lingering, with warm days and not much in the way of colored leaves yet. BUT: when I came back, it was like autumn had been kick-started! In just one week! Wheeee! I couldn’t be more thrilled, to tell you the truth. Autumn is hands-down my favorite season. There’s so much to love — crisp, cool air tinged with the sweet and pungent notes of fallen leaves, the heart-achingly beautiful, glorious fire reds, flame oranges, and sunny yellows of the maples, oaks, and beeches around us, throwing on a cozy sweater, sipping mugs of apple cider, carving pumpkins, the arrival of cute and fun-shaped gourds, and of course, the flavors of fall. Apple, maple, pumpkin, squash, and cinnamon dreams float through my head, and desserts inspired by the season start filling up my kitchen! In my opinion, fall is probably the best season of all for making desserts — there’s just so many homey, warm flavors to use. In my mind, fall desserts are like an embodiment of love.
The inaugural autumn dessert in my kitchen came immediately when I returned from the CIA — I had spotted some maple pots de creme in the Apple Pie Bakery while I was there, and I couldn’t stop thinking about them on my 4 hour drive home. I love pots de creme. They’re so simple to make, so lusciously smooth and delicious, and can be elegant or homey. My reigning favorite kind is a chocolate espresso pot de creme, but the idea of using maple as a flavoring just seemed perfect for the start of autumn.
You could serve these plain-jane, as is, by themselves, or dress them up a bit: I served mine with some maple-and-cinnamon-roasted apple slices, and some chopped toasted hazelnuts. The maple flavor comes through (especially if you use Grade B/Dark Amber syrup, which I love using in desserts), but also marries quite nicely with all the dairy goodness of the cream and eggs. A crisp autumn evening spent curled up under a blanket, sipping a mug of hot mulled cider and spooning from your maple pot de creme would be, I think, quite a perfect night – don’t you?
Maple Pots de Creme
an Eggs on Sunday original
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup (Grade B/Dark Amber for best flavor)
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Place four 3/4-cup ramekins in a metal baking pan (I use an 8×8 pan) and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, maple syrup, and salt to a simmer over medium high heat. While the cream mixture is heating, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla in a large bowl.
Once the cream comes to a simmer, temper the egg yolks by slowly adding the hot cream mixture, little by little, into the egg yolk mixture and whisking constantly. Once all the cream mixture has been incorporated, strain it through a fine-mesh sieve either back into the pot that you heated the cream in, or into a glass liquid measuring cup.
Divide the mixture among the four ramekins. You’ll bake them in a hot water bath, so pour enough very hot tap water into the baking dish so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Bake in the oven for about 50-60 minutes, or until the pots de creme are set around the edges but still slightly jiggly in the middle. Once they reach this point, remove them from the oven and take the ramekins out of the hot water bath. Let them cool at room temperature (they will continue to set as they do so.)