Pots of cream; I can just see a cat (or me) licking its whiskers in anticipation. Except I don't have whiskers. Honest. At any rate, pots de creme is the name of the dessert and also the specialized container that they're baked in.
Look, here's one now! Pots de creme are generally very small--think espresso cup--because they are very rich. Unlike flans and creme caramels, they are not sturdy enough to serve "turned out." They should still be very jiggly, like a loose pudding. That's why the clever French came up with these cute little containers. The lids are to keep them from forming a skin or browning on top.
These days, you can skip the lid and put foil over a pan of espresso cups in a water bath, but the traditional pots de creme containers are so cute, you might want to get your hands on some real ones. Pots de creme are actually quite collectible.
The ratio of dairy to eggs is roughly 3 cups dairy (use at least half and half or a mixture of half and half and cream. This is not diet food, plus, you're only eating a little bit) to 1 egg and 5 yolks. You can also lose the whole egg and go with 7-9 yolks. Of course, the pots de creme are sweetened with sugar and flavored traditionally with vanilla. Salt makes everything taste better. Knowing this, here's a good starting point for your recipe:
- 2 cups ½ and ½
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cups sugar (start with less and then add until you get your desired sweetness)
- salt to taste--at least ½ teaspoon. Honest.
- 8 egg yolks
- ½ vanilla bean, split and scraped (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
- Place dairy, ½ of the sugar, vanilla bean and salt in a heavy sauce pan.
- Whisk together the yolks and the other ½ of the sugar in a bowl.
- Heat the dairy mixture until it is just below a boil, remove from heat and temper into the yolk mixture, whisking madly.
- Return everything to the pot for just a few seconds, again, whisking madly.
- Strain again into a pitcher with a spout. Fill your pots de creme/espresso cups/whatever you have on hand that is tiny almost to the top.
- Bake in a water bath, covered, at 325 degrees, F for about 30 minutes (they should still be a bit wiggly in the center).
- Carefully remove from the oven, let cool for about 30 minutes and refrigerate. Yum.
I also have a lovely Chocolate Chili Pots de Creme, if you're feeling swanky.