Pots de creme are a perfect do-ahead dessert. They are best made at least one day in advance, so the custard has time to cool, set and develop in flavor. These pots de creme are redolent with lemon, and they are a breeze to make. You can make them with either the common Eureka lemons or Meyer lemons. Generally, I prefer the pucker of Eureka lemons, and in the case of this creamy dessert, the lemony tartness cuts through the rich, creamy custard as a welcome contrast. If you’re feeling extra fancy, whip the leftover egg whites into a billowy meringue to top the custards.
A simple citrus sugar is an easy garnish to this dessert and makes use of all of the leftover squeezed lemons. A combination of the finely grated lemon zest and sugar, left to dry at room temperature, adds an extra burst of citrusy flavor and a pleasant crunch to the creamy custards.
Begin the pots de creme one day in advance so they may chill overnight.
Lemon Pots de Creme with Citrus Sugar
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Yield: Makes 6
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
Pots de creme:
Juice of 3 lemons, about three-quarters cup
Half cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons
7 large egg yolks
2.5 cups heavy cream
Half teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt
Blueberries for garnish
Make the sugar:
Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl and mix well. Spread on a parchment-lined plate or tray and let stand at room temperature for at least 1 hour to dry out. Store in a glass jar until use.
Make the pots de creme:
Simmer the lemon juice and sugar and in a small saucepan until syrupy and slightly reduced, about 10 minutes. Stir in the zest and let stand for 15 minutes.
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Place six (6-ounce) ramekins in a deep baking dish. Bring a kettle of water to a boil and keep warm.
Lightly whisk the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
Combine the cream, vanilla and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Heat until nearly boiling and then remove from the heat. Slowly add to the eggs in a steady stream, whisking constantly to blend. Whisk in the lemon syrup and then strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.
Ladle the custard into the ramekins. Pour the hot water into the pan, halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake until the custard centers are set but still wobbly, about 45 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool completely on a wire rack. Cover and chill at least 8 hours or overnight.
Before serving, sprinkle the lemon sugar evenly over the pots de creme. Garnish with fresh blueberries and serve chilled.
Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area, where she lives with her Danish husband, two children, a cat and a dog. She studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Ecole de Cuisine in Paris and worked as a personal chef, culinary instructor, and food writer in Switzerland and Denmark. Her favorite activities include hiking, cooking dinners for her friends and family, and planning her next travel destination.