This is what you need to know: Halfway into making this dessert, you will think you’ve messed up.

The sugar will seize. The eggs will slightly scramble. At some point, cream and milk will spill all over your stovetop, your recipe and your white blouse.

And yet …

Sigh.

This dessert is perfect. Creamy, dreamy, deeply butterscotchy and slightly boozy. It’s my next dinner party finale. It’s a new Sunday dessert staple.

Stained blouse and all.

Butterscotch Pot de Creme (The A.O.C. Cookbook)

These custards come together quickly. If you’re like me and have just three people at home, the recipe halves easily. Just be patient with the caramelized sugar, be sure to strain the custard and don’t wear your best white blouse. Also, don’t wait until the last minute to make this dessert: The custards need 4 hours to chill.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup milk (2 percent is fine)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6 extra large egg yolks
  • 1 or more teaspoons rum

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Coat 6 ramekins with nonstick spray and place in a roasting pan. Set aside.

Fill a kettle with water and place it over high heat. You want it to be boiling by the time you’ve assembled your custards.

Melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan or saute pan. Add the brown sugar and salt, and stir well. Let the sugar dissolve, stirring occasionally. This takes a little time. Don’t worry.

Add the milk and 1 1/2 cups of the cream. The mixture is going to seize up into hard sugar rocks. Don’t worry. Don’t scrape the pan in panic because sugar, milk and cream will fly up onto your brand-new white blouse. Just stir calmly until the mixture comes to a boil. By this time, all those sugary rocks will have melted, and you’ll have a smooth, golden brown mixture.

Remove the sugar mixture from the heat.

Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and whisk them slightly. Add a few tablespoons of the hot sugar/milk mixture, whisking as you do it. Add a few more tablespoons. Add 1/3 cup or so, still whisking. Then add all the sugar/milk mixture.

Pour the egg yolk/sugar/milk mixture back into your saucepan or saute pan. Place over medium heat and stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is boiling. You’re going go see tiny bits of scrambled egg. Don’t worry. Keep cooking until the mixture coats the back or your spatula — about 5 minutes. Again, don’t panic when you see those solid bits of egg.

Using a fine mesh sieve, either strain the mixture into a clean bowl or directly into your ramekins. If you’ve strained it into a bowl, now spoon it into the prepared ramekins.

The hot water in your kettle should be boiling. Pour it into the roasting pan until water reaches halfway up your ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with foil.

Place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and check to see that the custards are just setting: Their edges should be dry, but their centers should be pretty wobbly.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Let the custards cool in the water for 15 minutes, then remove the ramekins to a plate or baking sheet. Refrigerate them for at least 4 hours:

butterscotch-naked

Before serving, place the remaining cream in a bowl. Add the rum, then whisk until soft peaks form. Spoon the cream over the custards and serve.

butterscotch-pots-de-cremeSee? They’re perfect.

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