Maple Pot de Crème

September 18, 2010 at 1:08 pm 92 comments

Maple Pot de Crème

I’ve never gone this long without baking.

I realize now that I took everything back home for granted – ingredients, books, supplies. Here, I don’t even own a fork. I miss my glossy black oven and my vials of vanilla beans, but I’m making the best of things. On Sunday I visited a friend who lives in Boston. Her kitchen is all blue, yellow, and white, flooded with light and breathtakingly lovely. I baked a triple lemon yogurt loaf (no photos, but heartfelt thanks to D- and her beautiful family) and brought some home to share with my floor.

The dorm food here is, well, my least favorite aspect of the school. It’s all wilted spinach, dried-out pizza and artificial-cherry Jello. Disappointing, if unsurprising. It’s even more frustrating than the screechy subway or our tiny elevators, which are always hot with the breath of people past. When the longing for good food overwhelms, I look through my collection of photos.

Maple Pot de Crème

I had sixty recipes to choose from for this post, and I am so excited to share this particular one with you. Sixty recipes baked, fried, and frozen over the course of a few weeks, and this is possibly the stand out. Maple Pot de Crème. Would you believe that something so innocent could be so dangerous?

Back in July, I baked four or five desserts every day. The first thing I did when I woke up was preheat the oven, and the last thing I did before bed was wrap up any dessert left to cool on the counter. Every Sunday I gave my dad a bite out of everything, so he could taste test it all. On that particular morning, there were a lot of things to try.

He’d sampled everything by the time I drew the pot de crème from the fridge, the last thing to try in this buffet of sugar. This pot de crème was the creamiest, smoothest, silkiest custard I’ve ever made. I don’t know whether it’s the recipe, since I haven’t made it again, or if I just got lucky, but this particular batch of pot de crème was extraordinary. You could tell, even as the spoon sunk in. I watched him frown, speechless, and reach for another bite.

He scraped the ramekin clean.

Maple Pot de Crème

We waited half an hour, and then I couldn’t help it. I reached for another. We knew it was a bad idea – my dad’s stomach has been in poor health recently – and I even joked about the amount of cream and yolk in every spoonful. It was a mistake, but a delicious one. All we could think was how close to perfection this pot de crème was, and how lucky we were to have it.

Not an hour later, my dad was balled up on the couch, and I was running down the street with my shoes half on. A neighbor drove us to the emergency room. It was rush hour, the car was barely advancing, the slightest bump made my father groan and why were we moving so slowly? Numbly, all I could think from somewhere in the back of my head was, “I shouldn’t have given him all that dessert.”

By the time we got to the hospital, thankfully, his pain was starting to lessen. By the time my mother ran in, he reassured her that he was fine. After a few hours, the pain had subsided, and we knew he was going to be okay.

Maple Pot de Crème

This is the kind of man my dad is: after the attack was over and he was discharged, my mother left to bring the car around. As my father and I stood in front of the hospital, he leaned against a post, exhausted and still weak. Another car pulled up, and a middle-aged lady struggled to open a wheelchair and help her frail mother into it. Despite everything, my father had jogged over before I’d even straightened up, holding the mother’s arm and guiding her into the seat.

Before they walked away, the woman said to him, “The world would be such a beautiful place if there were more people in it like you.”

It’s true.

And when our Toyota pulled up to the curb and we piled in to go back home, he said, “I kind of want another maple pot de crème.” They’re just that good.

My dad finally had the surgery he needed, and while multiple pots de crème still might not be advisable, he’s going to be great. Last week was his birthday, and while I wasn’t there to make something special, I hope this post makes him smile. Happy birthday Dad, I love and miss you. You’re the best father anyone could ask for, even from across the country.

[PS: Many readers have asked where I got the ramekins. They were a gift from my grandma to my dad, who later regifted them to me. After a lot of googling, I managed to find them – they’re part of the Andrea by Sadek collection and can be bought at this link.]

Maple Pot de Crème

Months later, I still sometimes dream about this pot de crème. It’s so creamy and smooth, just decadent. And while I’m not a big fan of maple syrup, I couldn’t get enough of this. The maple flavor is pure and complex – use the best maple syrup you’ve got, because the flavor really shines.

I didn’t make it 100% perfectly, because a slight crust formed on the top, but once broken with your spoon it gave into the most velvety custard. Incredible.

When you pull the pots de crème out of the oven, they should be set, but still jiggle in the center when shook. The custard will thicken after chilling in the fridge.

Maple Pots de Crème
From Closet Cooking
Makes 4 servings

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and arrange four ramekins in a rimmed baking dish.

Combine the cream, maple syrup, and salt in a small saucepan. Heat until it comes to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Using a small ladle, add some hot cream to the egg yolks a few tablespoons at a time. Whisk the egg yolks into the cream in the saucepan until combined. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve.

Pour the mixture into the four ramekins. Carefully pour enough hot water into the rimmed baking dish to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the edges are set but the center gently jiggles when shook, about 50-60 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool to room temperature. Eat, or cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and keep in the fridge (I prefer them cold.)

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SHF Round Up #68 – Brown Butter Oat, Pear, and Raspberry Loaf

92 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Crysi  |  September 23, 2010 at 12:30 am

    Gallbladder attack? I had mine removed after my first daughter was born. The attacks were worse than labor and sent me to the ER, twice. I’d advise avoiding all fatty foods for several months or he’ll definitely regret it. Glad he’s doing better though.

    I love those ramekins. So cute! I lived in Boston (the south end) for a summer with my brother and his wife. I miss it. Beautiful city.

  • 2. Ella  |  September 23, 2010 at 2:59 am

    Hi Elissa, these look incredible and I want to make them so much, but I live in New Zealand and we don’t have heavy cream here… Do you have any ideas for a potential substitute?

    Also, I feel duty bound to tell you that your raspberry choc ganache cake is renowned in my neighbourhood – I make it all the time!


    • 3. Elissa  |  September 23, 2010 at 9:26 am

      Ella – Do you have double cream in New Zealand? That would be a great substitute, although it would make the pots de creme even richer! Heavy cream is 36% – 40% fat, so if you can find something from 30% – 40% fat it’ll work in the recipe. Also, so glad that your neighborhood likes the raspberry ganache cake! :)

  • 4. stephanie  |  September 23, 2010 at 7:46 am

    I was looking for a dessert to serve in small ramikens and these are just right for this time of year. I noticed someone mentioned gall bladder..did your dad have problems with it? I ask because my mother has similar attacks …going to hospital and all that leave her weak aswell. No doctors have been able to tell her what it is.

    • 5. Elissa  |  September 23, 2010 at 9:21 am

      Stephanie – My dad was indeed having gallbladder attacks, and while I don’t know enough about it to say more than that, I hope you figure out what’s happening with your mother.

  • 6. Heather @ The Single Dish  |  September 23, 2010 at 9:56 am

    This looks delicious, I have never tasted it before. I love dessert with individual servings for dinner parties.

  • 7. Elizabeth  |  September 23, 2010 at 11:15 am

    That does look creamy dreamy smooth…very nice. And if an ill father was willing to eat it all with a risk of hospitalization, I imagine it tastes just amazing as well. Beautiful post!

  • 8. tea_austen  |  September 23, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    You just made me cry. What a beautiful tribute to your father. I hope he is doing better, and I hope you find a Boston kitchen to play in on a regular basis.

  • 9. Jayne  |  September 24, 2010 at 12:12 am

    I didn’t to the pots cos I’m not a creme kinda person but oh the lemon cake! I made that one sans frosting. It was so delicious with the lemon vanilla bean sauce I made. Thanks for the recommendation Elissa.

    And you have a great dad. My dad (before I got married) used to scold me for baking and making desserts. Anything with sugar, butter and cream is evil to him so I never got to bake much, except when done in secret. You have great parents. Keep on keeping on!

  • 10. Christyna Serrano  |  September 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm

    Hi, these were absolutely delectable! Thanks so much for the post. I actually made these the same day you posted it, and I too had a crust top that developed. It was good. However, as I am reading through the “Art & Soul of Baking” by Cindy Mushet, I’ve discovered why that crust develops. Basically, “custards are always covered during baking because the dry heat of the oven in direct contact with the surface of the custard can cause a a skin or crack to form.” She recommends that you lightly cover each cup individually with aluminum foil making sure that the foil does not touch the custard, or loosely cover the whole pan, to avoid the skin/crust from forming. Just lightly cover though because you don’t want to create an airtight environment, which will cause the steam to build up making them cook rapidly and curdling them. Hope this helps. Nonetheless, crust and all, this recipe totally rocked! Thanks!

    • 11. Elissa  |  September 24, 2010 at 10:26 pm

      Christyna Serrano – Thanks for the tip! I’ll try that next time. Or, if I’m using the same ramekins, I’ll bake them with the lids partially on (apparently, that’s what they’re for – who knew? I thought it was just for a pretty presentation.)

  • 12. Katie  |  September 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Wow, those look absolutely delicious! I love how creamy they are – I’m definitely a fan of creme, yum!

  • 13. cindywil  |  September 25, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Your story about you missing your dad made me cry. You are both so blessed to have each other. You are an amazing writer and cook!

  • 14. Eleanor  |  September 26, 2010 at 11:07 am


    Have you announced which college you’re at yet?

    Hope you’ve enjoyed your first week/s as a college freshman. Just keep a stack of recipes that you want to try out at Thanksgiving and get your parents to post them to you!

  • 15. T  |  September 26, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Elissa! This post absolutely made my mouth water instantly. Crème brûlées and any types of pots de crème are my favourite desserts.

    I am so inspired by your blog. I recently stumbled upon Whisk Kid and was amazed at the way she has with words and photography, and the beautiful recipes she creates. I have once again experience that same feeling when I came across your blog after visiting the Urban Baker.

    I just want to say that everything about your blog is wonderful, and I wish you success in everything that you pursue in life.


  • 16. Erin @ Blue Egg Kitchen  |  September 28, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Simple. Elegant. Yum. I think this is just what I’ve been looking for to make my daughter for her first birthday.

  • 17. Rosa  |  September 29, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Mmmhhh, those pots de crème look fantastic! What a beautiful texture…



  • 18. CinZilicious  |  September 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    Yummy, that Maple Pot de Crème is to die for!!! it looks really rich and smooth, hehe.

    Sorry to hear about your dad but hope he is well on his way to recovery =) and i agree with the rest, this post is really touching and its amazing how u have such a close bond with your daddy, its a true blessing. And he’s a really caring person too, we need more people like that indeed =D

  • 19. Bites from other Blogs |  |  September 30, 2010 at 1:39 am

    […] is a great time for maple desserts to start making an appearance and the Maple Pot De Creme from 17 and Baking are a great example. The desserts are simply, but silky smooth custards, made […]

  • 20. Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes)  |  September 30, 2010 at 6:52 am

    4-5 recipes a day?? But where did it all go? My family gets angry if I make more than 2 recipes a week!! EVEN when I gift to friends!

  • 21. crustabakes  |  October 1, 2010 at 2:20 am

    That was a very beautiful story. and a very beautiful custard too!

  • 22. Janene Murphy  |  October 3, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Okay, As a 43 year-old who just mastered toast (okay, I’m not that bad) I have to say I’m very impressed. That looks amazing! I’ll have to come by for more recipes. You definitely have a talent!

  • 23. Jessica @ Jessiker Bakes  |  October 3, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    I’ve commented a ton before, but you’re still awesome! I’m finally seeing your “patriotic cake” video and I loveeeee it!

    I’m Jamaican but if I ever make a Jamaican cake I’ll send you the link :p

  • 24. Sarah  |  October 17, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I made these last night as dessert for our anniversary. They are outstanding. Dead easy to make, and the texture and flavour are perfect. Thanks so much for posting the recipe.

  • 25. Maple Pot de Crème « The Kosher Scene  |  October 19, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    […] made it yesterday and it proved more than good enough to share on these pages. It comes from the 17 and Baking blog, a very nice blog with great recipes and […]

  • 26. Stephanie  |  October 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    I made these and absolutely loved them!!!
    the only thing i would change when i make these again is to add a little less water at the end.

  • 27. Millys mini kitchen  |  October 24, 2010 at 4:57 am

    My mouth is watering so much for these! Definately trying it soon!

  • 28. Lynne  |  November 3, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I love this entry. I seem to have lost touch with you – but congrats on the move to Boston. Dorm living is a real adjustment – take advantage of those afternoons / evenings in friend’s kitchens. I can’t wait to try this recipe… thank you for sharing and the beautiful pictures (and story) that accompanied!

  • 29. Samantha  |  February 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

    It sounds like your dad gets what my dad gets (when he starts ignoring what he should be eating.) He had surgery for diverticulitis a couple of years ago. Did your dad have the same thing?

  • 30. Lexie  |  March 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Love this post! Just as much as I love all of your other ones! I very glad that your dad is okay, and everything was taken care of. I can tell of your strong bond with him through the emotions in your writing and can see the love that you have for him. I have a similar bond with my father and hold it as one of the most essential things in my life. Love this recipe as well, it looks and sounds delicious and I cannot wait to try it out!

  • 31. Jasmine  |  April 5, 2011 at 4:27 am

    I love how you connect certain foods with memories. I also tie the feel/taste of certain foods with specific memories. I’m so glad that it is a comfort to you while you are at school too.

  • 32. The Danger of Real Maple Syrup « anthrojournalist  |  September 21, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    […] Maple Pots de Crème adapted from 17 and Baking […]

  • […] float across the tongue, irresistibly. (For some enticing photos of a true pôt de crème, see this blog post).  Not quite as solid as the real thing, this silky, smooth and airy vegan version is so […]

  • 34. Recipes: Pot de Crème | HIPLIP  |  October 19, 2011 at 11:38 am

    […] Maple Pot de Crème […]

  • 35. Columbus Foodie » Blog Archive » September 2010 Roundup  |  January 12, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    […] sweet recipes, Maple Pots de Creme from 17 and Baking, Sweet Potato Walnut Bread from A Well Fed Seed, Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes […]

  • 36. Sunday Dinner, Oscar Style « Caitlin Dentino  |  February 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    […] you thought it ended there, as the awards were concluding, we finished it off with Catie’s maple pots de crème, which she topped with a sprinkling of salt and fresh whipped […]

  • 37. Kyle @ DishSetCo  |  July 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

    If you are ever looking for ramekins, I have a few sitting around in their boxes that I could part with and in return maybe you could do a review on them, feel free to email me if you are interested.

  • 38. thebakingyear  |  March 31, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I always want to make pot de cremes. They are delicious and these look fantastic as well!

  • 39. Kat werner  |  November 11, 2013 at 2:00 am

    just made this yesterday and it was delisious, though I may cut back on the salt slightly for the next round. 1/8 tsp might be a better balance for my personal taste :) also, consider topping them with a bit of maple sugar and giving them a bit of a “brulle” top for an extra touch of crunch on top and kick of maple flavor :)

  • […] float across the tongue, irresistibly. (For some enticing photos of a true pôt de crème, see this blog post).  Not quite as solid as the real thing, this silky, smooth and airy vegan version is so […]

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Elissa Bernstein

I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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