salted caramel pots de creme with rosemary pine nut cookies

I love custard.  I would pick a creme brulee, a panna cotta or even a bowl of tapioca pudding over a flourless chocolate cake, hands down {much to the chagrin of my chocolate loving dining companion}.  I also love all desserts involving caramel.  And, I love all desserts that are served in individual containers – not because I am {necessarily} opposed to sharing, but because they are usually just too damn cute.

This dessert was inspired by the butterscotch budino I have had {on several occasions} at Pizzeria Mozza.  At Mozza, these budini are accompanied by pine nut rosemary cookies, which I found to be quite an unusual, but genius, pairing {thank you, Nancy Silverton}.  The addition of rosemary and polenta {corn meal} make these cookies somewhat savory and cracker-esque, which I think works wonderfully with the intense richness of the caramel {and are delicious on their own with tea or coffee, or as an impressive addition to a cheese platter}.

I made these pots de creme for Thanksgiving, and they were divine – a perfect custard consistency, rich, velvety, and, dare I say – unctuous {in a good way}.  Much to my pleasure, it won the seal of approval from my uncle, who is a fantastic cook and who has inspired my sister and I immensely in our love for cooking and food.  He then proceeded to ask whether I purchased the glass containers especially for this dessert.  To which I responded – naturally!  {They are from Heath, one of my favorite stores in San Francisco, which is {rather dangerously} located a floor below my office in the Ferry Building.}  A bit excessive perhaps, but in my opinion, a worthy vessel for such a special dessert.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Recipe continued after the jump…


Salted Caramel Pots de Creme

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Makes 6-8 servings, depending on size of pots

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 2 c. whipping cream
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Smoked sea salt {I used Maldon}

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F.  Place six 2/3-cup soufflé dishes or 3/4-cup custard cups or 8 small glass jars in large roasting pan.  Combine sugar and water in heavy large saucepan.  Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium and boil without stirring until caramel turns a deep amber, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan {this took me about 8 minutes to reach the desired color}.  It’s very important to watch the caramel carefully during this process – it can easily and quickly burn.  If the caramel begins to turn a deep chocolate brown, it’s likely that the caramel has burned, which will result in a very bitter caramel {I know as this happened to me on my first attempt}.  At this point, throw out the caramel and start over, ensuring that the heat is no higher than medium.

Gradually whisk in 1 1/2 c. cream and 1/2 c. milk {mixture will bubble vigorously}.  Stir until caramel dissolves, about 2 minutes.

Beat yolks in large bowl until foamy.  Gradually whisk in warm caramel.  Strain into 4-cup glass measuring cup. Divide among dishes.  Pour enough hot water into a roasting pan to come halfway up sides of dishes.  Bake until custard is just set at edges but still moves in center when shaken gently, about 1 hour {cooking time will vary depending on size of glasses used}.  Remove from water and cool on rack.  Chill until cold, at least 2 hours.

Beat 1/2 c. cream in medium bowl until soft peaks form.  Add confectioners sugar and vanilla and beat until incorporated, careful not to overmix.  Spoon whipped cream onto cooled custard.  Sprinkle with sea salt.

Rosemary Pine Nut Cookies

Adapted from the Mozza Cookbook

Makes between 1 1/2 to 3 dozen cookies depending on the size of cutter you use.

  • 1/3 c. plus 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/2 c. {stick} unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 c. plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 c. plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 c. finely ground cornmeal {polenta}
  • 2 heaping tablespoons rosemary tufts

Toast 1/3 c. pine nuts in dry pan over medium heat until lightly golden and fragrant.  Finely chop pine nuts.

Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat with the paddle attachment on high speed until the mixture is smooth and creamy, scraping down the bowl as needed, about 5 minutes {I used a hand-held electric mixer}.  Add the vanilla and salt and mix to incorporate.  Add the flour, polenta and the chopped pine nuts, and mix until thoroughly combined.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead to form a ball.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the dough from the fridge. Dust a flat surface with flour, cut the dough into chunks, and knead the dough to soften it, until the dough is the texture of Play-Doh.  Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick, adding more flour, if needed.  Cut the dough with a 1 inch round cookie cutter, keeping the cuts as close together as possible.  Lift the rounds onto the parchment, and place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets {gather scraps and reroll once, if desired}.

Place 2-3 pine nuts and, if desired, a tuft of rosemary, in center of cookie, and press lightly so ensure that they stick.

Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden brown around the edges.  Remove to racks to cool to room temperature before serving.

Note:  I think this recipe is highly adaptable – I think walnuts and thyme {omitting the polenta and adding a bit more flour} would also be fantastic, especially served with a nutty cheese {like a Manchego}.

Thank you so much for reading!

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5 Responses to salted caramel pots de creme with rosemary pine nut cookies

  1. ladyredspecs says:

    I’m with you, I’d take caramel (or vanilla) over chocolate every time!

  2. Candy says:

    ooh these look delicious 🙂

  3. Pingback: a caprese for all seasons « { fleur de sel }

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