This week’s Project Food Blog challenge is to complete a step-by-step photo tutorial that is easy to follow and so alluring that you will have to drool-proof your keyboard.
For this challenge, I wanted to feature an extraordinary dessert that has haunted me ever since I first tasted it: Town Hall’s Pot de Creme. This decadent sweet ending is an uber-luxe version of an American classic — creamy butterscotch pudding layered over rich dark chocolate pudding, topped with shards of buttercrunch toffee. Best of all, it’s served in a huge oversized cereal bowl. No wussy servings here 🙂
I shared this bowl of pudding-liciousness with some gals who have as much appreciation for the cook’s holy trinity (butter-sugar-cream) as I do.
Meet my sister food bloggers, the Foodinistas: Elaine, Vera, Jo, Danielle, Amy, and Brittany are a few of the amazing ladies I’ve had the good fortune of meeting through the FoodBuzz community. I love it that we’ve been able to bring our friendships from online to real life. Our gatherings are always full of laughs (and a lot of food talk) whether we are talking shop, getting hot flashes over TK, or sharing a good meal (where we order as much variety as possible and split everything family-style, obvi).
Well, Town Hall’s Pot de Creme had us oohing and ahhing until we were scraping the bottom of the bowl. I decided then and there that we would need to have a Pot de Creme party.
The real knockout part of this dessert was the Butterscotch Pudding, so I decided to focus on that. I went to work trying to recreate this lovely bowl of sweetness. My first attempt was meh. I melted my dark brown sugar and butter together, and did everything David Lebovitz told me to do, but the texture was too grainy.
This would not do for the Foodinistas.
Plan B: Go to the source. I emailed Town Hall and begged them for the recipe.
To my utter delight, they happily shared it! I scaled down the recipe, but otherwise, followed the instructions closely.
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and gather your ingredients together:
In a sauce pan over medium heat, combine the cream, salt, and vanilla bean (the one I used was home-grown by my friend in Madagascar!). Bring the cream to just under boiling (small bubbles should rise to the side, but no rolling boil).
While the vanilla cream mixture warms up, whisk together the scotch (or bourbon), water, brown sugar, and second measure of cream. Set that aside.
When the cream mixture is done, turn the heat off the pot, fish out the vanilla bean, and stir in the scotch mixture and butterscotch chips, whisking to melt the chips and distribute evenly.
The vanilla bean was probably too hard to split before, but since it has softened up now, cut it open lengthwise. Using the dull edge of a paring knife, run it down the length of the bean, scraping up all the fragrant vanilla specks, and adding it back into the cream mixture. Cook’s Note: The remaining vanilla pod still has a lot of flavor left, so I like to rinse it off and put it in a jar filled with sugar to make vanilla-scented sugar. Every time you cook with a vanilla bean, just keep adding it to your jar.
Now, it’s time to temper the hot cream mixture into the egg yolks (add a little at a time so that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs). Strain this mixture through a fine mesh sieve and pour directly into a baking dish that is sitting in a larger roasting pan.
Bake in a water bath at 350 F (the water should come about halfway up the side of the baking dish), wrapped in foil, approximately 40-60 minutes or until the pudding is starting to set. The pudding is done when it jiggles as one if you move it gently.
Remove the baking dish from the water bath and let it cool at room temperature.
Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve a second time and ladle it into your serving bowls (I used round punch glasses; I’ve also seen some pretty presentations in tea cups before). Chill thoroughly before serving.
Instead of making the toffee garnish, I went with freshly whipped cream, chocolate shavings, and a buttery Tahini Shortbread Cookie. The salty, nutty crumble of the Tahini Shortbread was a nice complement here. If short on time though, I would just crush up some Werther’s or Skor toffee and sprinkle that on top.
I’m pleased to report back that this recipe remix was a success! It had the same swoon-worthy, luxurious texture as Town Hall’s original version. The pudding was golden and buttery, and just melted away on your tongue like cool silk.
(Voting for Project Food Blog Challenge #4 is open Mon 10/11, 6 AM PST – Thurs 10/14, 6 PM PST)
This decadent dessert consists of a rich butterscotch pudding layered over dark chocolate pudding, topped with a buttercrunch toffee. For my version, just make the butterscotch pudding, top with freshly whipped cream, and garnish with chocolate shavings and a Tahini Shortbread Cookie. Recipe courtesy of Town Hall.
At the restaurant we use a very simple technique for tempering chocolate. We fill a metal mixing bowl with our chocolate pieces, and melt it completely by letting it sit on top fo the stove. Using a double boiler works as well. Once you’re sure the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, let it sit in a cool part of the kitchen for about 15 minutes. As the chocolate on the insides of the bowl begin to set up, stir it back into the rest of the melted chocolate and let it sit some more until more chocolate has set on the sides of the bowl. Then stir that in as before. Continue the process of stirring the sides of the bowl until the chocolate until it feels cool on your lip. It will have a nice shine, and register 88 F on a thermometer. You are ready to pour.
Recipe Source: LickMySpoon.com.
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Tahini Shortbread Cookies
Recipe by Maura Kilpatrick, as published in Food & Wine Magazine.
Servings: Makes about 100 cookies
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup tahini, stirred
3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, crushed
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sesame seeds
1. In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter with the tahini, confectioners’ sugar and salt at medium speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the flour and beat until incorporated.
2. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead just until it comes together. Divide the dough in half and roll each piece into a 15-inch log, about 1 inch thick. Scatter the sesame seeds on a sheet of parchment paper and roll the logs until completely coated. Roll each log in parchment and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 325Â° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Unroll one log and slice it 1/4 inch thick. Arrange the slices on the baking sheets. Bake the cookies in the center and lower-thirds of the oven for about 25 minutes, or until golden, shifting the pans from front to back and top to bottom halfway through baking. Slide the parchment onto a rack and let the cookies cool completely. Repeat with the second log of dough.
Make ahead: The cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.