Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cafe Au Lait Pots De Crème

For someone who believes in coffee smelling like freshly ground heaven, the new year can't begin with an  aroma better than that from Cafe Au Lait Pots De Crème! An easy, quick yet impressive make ahead dessert that can't fail to please coffee lovers. Smooth and creamy with a pleasant caffeine kick, what's not to love? 

I so wanted to bake a cake for my husband's birthday on Saturday, but could not with the vacations and the kids' exams approaching. Makes me feel guilty to spend time in my baking kitchen. Oh yes, along with being a joy, having a separate baking space has its pitfalls too!

A meal out to celebrate not withstanding, a birthday must have at least a home-made dessert if not a cake. Saturday morning saw me wake up early, sip my huge mug of coffee and rush to buy some whole milk and eggs for the baked custards. And before the rest of the family woke up, I had these little pots of coffee cream cooling on the table. Oh joy! Wish every day of mine could begin with baking! 

Making a simple egg based custard or Creme AnglaiseCream Patissière and then baked custards like Chocolate Pots De Creme and Caramel Custard  is something that absolutely must be tried and learnt. You can make quite a few desserts once you get comfortable with the basics, the versatility of custard is truly amazing! Don't even think you could do a custard powder something in an attempt to replicate these, if you ask me, egg based custard is the way to go!

Melissa d' Arabian's recipe from Food Network here.

New to baking? Check out my workshops for beginners, click here


  • Whole milk - 180 ml / 3/4 cup 
  • Heavy cream - 120 ml / 1/2 cup ( I used Amul, 25% fat)
  • Sugar, granulated - 50 grams / 4 tablespoons / 1/4 cup
  • Instant coffee - 1 tablespoon
  • Pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
  • Egg - 1 whole / 48 grams 
  • Egg yolks - 36 grams / 2 yolks

Procedure: Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees C / 325 F. First let's get ready
  • Assemble a medium sized, thick bottomed saucepan with a handle, 2 large heat proof vessels (one to whisk the eggs and temper the mixture in, another to strain the mixture into) a fine meshed strainer. A couple of spoons, a spatula. Small oven proof bowls (I used 125 ml capacity ramekins) . Do keep the serving size small as its a rich dessert.
  • Have some very hot water on sim on your stove, better more than less. A tea kettle will be perfect! The water has to come halfway up the ramekins when you keep them in the baking tin.  
  • Suspend the strainer over one of the large bowls (You should be able to easily pour the custard from this into the ramekins). 
  • A baking tin, I used a 10'' by 7'' tin to keep 5 ramekins. A 9'' square tin should work too. Place a small kitchen towel to cover the bottom of the tin,  then place the ramekins in the baking tin. Use a tin which will fit the ramekins without crowding them in, but not too much empty space otherwise. This is particularly important if baking in a convection microwave as your ramekins will swim in the water as the turntable rotates.  Have on hand a pair of mittens or thick kitchen towels and a ladle.

  • Preheat oven to 160 degrees C / 325 degrees F. In one of the bowls, whisk the egg yolks and the egg. Set aside (do not leave it sitting for too long as a film will develop over the yolks). 
  • Heat the milk,  cream, vanilla, the coffee and sugar until just boiling. Taste. Add more coffee or sugar to your preference. Remember that the sweetness will be just a bit lesser later with the inclusion of egg and then the chilling. 
  • Very gradually, little by little, using the ladle, dribble in the hot coffee mixture into the egg, whisk constantly. Do not hurry this process or the eggs may curdle. 
  • Strain the custard through the strainer into the other bowl. This helps remove any bits of uncooked egg giving you a smoother custard.
  • Pour the custard into the ramekins a little below the line under the rim, the custard doesn't rise, just sets . Pour the hot water very carefully in the baking tin such that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins.(You are supposed to first place the baking tin the oven and then pour the hot water, but this is not possible in my small oven or even the microwave, the rack may tilt in the process). Get that tea kettle out if you have one! 
  • Open the oven door. Now place the tray carefully in the oven. Bake the custard in the water bath for about 20-25 minutes or until the sides are set but the center is jiggly (like jelly) when you shake the ramekins gently).  Check around 20 minutes. The time varies depending on the ramekin size.
  • Do not over bake or your custard may turn rubbery or 'weep'. (please read note below). Err on the side of under baking rather than over baking. 
  • Remove from the water bath and cool to room temperature. The recipe directs to place the ramekins after baking in cold water, must try next time! Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set and chilled.

Please note : The baking time is very important for the best texture of the custards. The custard  may appear to need more baking (but it should not be liquid or gooey)  if you spoon out some when warm, but it will set well on refrigeration. So slight under-baking is better than over-baking. 

Chill for at least 3-4 hours or even better overnight or even a day! This will allow the custard to set well and the flavors mature.

I baked these in my small 14 liter OTG as my microwave sits in my baking kitchen. Two of the custards had a bit of liquid on top after refrigeration, suspect this is the 'weeping'. The other 3 had no liquid on top. Blame the uneven temperature in the tiny oven. Otherwise even the weeping ones were perfectly smooth and creamy, no complaints at all, so I guess I could live with it!

We enjoyed the dessert, my daughter who normally does't like anything with coffee, licked her ramekin clean! Cafe Au Lait Pots De Creme,  you have won over a six year old too!


Hamaree Rasoi said...

Delicious and lovely looking chocolate creme. Excellent pics.

Gungun Chanda said...

Thanks Suma for the lovely recipe, the guidelines are very clearly explained. As coffee is my favourite flavour for dessert I will surely give it a try.

msq said...

A feast for the eyes of a coffee lover!!!!absolutely delightful, creamy..I actually want to get my hands on those ramekins..need to bake those now!!thanks for the awesome recipe dear suma!!

Asha said...

wow!! looks yummy ..am trying this next week :)

Deepa G Joshi said...

Wow Suma..This looks so delicious..no yummy..no droolworthy..no no no..I am actually speechless. This will be a treat to a coffee lover like me.

Parita said...

Suma this is fantastic..you have explained everything in so detail..thank you so much! definitely making this dessert some day..love coffee!

Kitchen Rhythms said...

You have a wonderful blog with gr8 photographs.happy to follow youu !!!!


Shuja said...

Suma , I know you have an MR 52. Which mode you baked this only rod or upper and lower with fan and at what temperature , 160 ? Pls. help me !! Thnk u !

Suma Rowjee said...

Shuja, have baked this in my 14 liter MR OTG. I normally don't use both the heating for baking. Just the lower one. Yes, at 160 degree C.

Shuja said...

Thnk u , Suma !

Shuja said...
This comment has been removed by the author.