For one of our last get togethers with friends, Amir made chai tea pots de crème. The little guys did not set completely, so they were more like very thick cups of cream. Delicious of course, but not quite as silky and luscious as the perfect pot de crème. We decided not to share the recipe as it needed to be tweaked. Fast forward through the last couple of months, and we have both had our share of custard desserts. From flan to crème brûlée, we have personal favorites. Mine reside on the side of the line with a higher ratio of cream to milk and more yolks than necessary. It was back to the drawing board then to create a pot de crème that would make the list.
In the world of custards, there are really two types. Some custards are all cooked on the stove, while the rest of them must be baked. Dairy, eggs and sugar are the common ingredients, although there are savory custards that may have little to no sweeteners. Each variation under the custard umbrella is characterized by its ratio of ingredients and its final preparation. The reason why I love crème brûlée is because full fat heavy cream, rich egg yolks and sugar comprise the base, whereas flan, for example, is a mixture of whole milk, cream, egg yolks and whole eggs. Imagine the difference between the two. They are both baked custards, but the ratio and combination of dairy and eggs create two very different textures. As for stovetop custards, consider the base for ice cream, also called crème anglaise. It is typically a mixture of milk and/or cream, egg yolks and sugar cooked over low heat until thickened. It can be flavored as desired and served warm, at room temperature or chilled and churned for ice cream. Pastry cream, on the other hand, consists of similar ingredients in addition to a thickener such as flour or cornstarch to create a stiffer custard used for fillings in a variety of cakes, pies, cookies, etc.
Now that you know more about custards, let’s get back to this particular pot de crème recipe. More than three years ago, we created a menu of dishes, each one featuring different types of tea. We were contacted by Gevalia Coffee to sample a few of their teas. Three flavors arrived–Lemon Berry Breeze, Green Tea with Pomegranate and Chamomile Dream–and one of them stood out immediately as the perfect addition to pot de crème. Green tea has always been a go to for me. It is light, refreshing and invigorating on its own. The addition of sweet, tart pomegranate seemed like a seasonally appropriate zinger to add to the mix. That was it! The first It was time to head to the kitchen.
Green tea, compared to other varieties, is fairly mild, so the key is either to steep the tea bags for a longer period of time or use more bags. It seems like a slow steep period is better than bulking up on tea bags. It also helps to lightly press on the bags to release more flavor from the tea. Just be careful not to release any loose tea leaves into the liquid mixture, or you will have to strain the warm dairy a few times through a fine sieve. Once the custard base is made, a water bath, or bain marie, is necessary to assist with even baking. Once it’s all said and done, the final, chilled dessert is a treat for anyone lucky to pick up a spoon.
If you are inspired by this dessert or now have your own ideas for new dishes to try, let us know how you would incorporate tea into a recipe of your own creation. If you had your favorite tea in hand, what dish would you flavor with it? We’ll choose a winner, and the prize will be a sample package of three Gevalia Coffee teas shipped directly to your door. Entries will be accepted through Sunday, November 11th 11:59 pm pst. We will choose a winner on Monday, November 12th. All entrants must reside in the continental United States.
- 1. In a medium sauce pan, heat the heavy cream, milk and tea bags over a low flame until steam begins to rise off the surface of the liquid. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil or bubble. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
- 2. As the mixture steeps, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and salt until thick, pale yellow and ribbony, approximately 2 minutes. Set aside.
- 3. Set the diary back over a medium low flame and heat until steam appears once more. Remove from heat and pour directly into the bowl of egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until completely combined.
- 4. Pour the custard base into four 4-ounce ramekins. Set into a deep baking dish and fill halfway up the side of the ramekins with hot water. Slide the baking dish into an oven preheated to 350 degrees, and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the edges of the custard is set and the inside slightly shakes. Remove from the oven and bring to room temperature. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
Disclaimer: Gevalia Coffee sent along three varieties of tea to sample. No monetary compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are our own.