I will now join the club.. I’m ready for Spring to be here. I want to go out and have adult dirt playtime, otherwise known as gardening. I want to see my Hyacinths bloom as well as put in all of my yearly herbs, flower bulbs and seeds. I want to see leaves on our fruit trees and smell the scent of freshly cut grass. I want to hear the crickets and frog serenade me in the evening.
But… what I want doesn’t mean squat to mean old Mother Nature. She is a harridan who does things on her own schedule and this Winter, she has been in a really really bad mood. Kentucky (the part I live in at least) has seen more snow and ice than I recall seeing here in over a decade. But compared to what other parts of the country have endured, it’s been a cake walk here. I don’t know anyone at this point who isn’t ready for a little warmth. I feel like an aging cat who wants nothing more than to find the nearest sunbeam and let it soak into my body lol.
Spring isn’t going to be here for a while though, even here in the south, so I have to content myself with making foods that make me feel like it is almost here. This Lemon Pots de Crème is definitely one of those foods. This is smooth, ultra creamy and rich and intensely tangy; very much a taste of Spring. The recipe is straight from FineCooking.com. The only change I made was to add 1/4 cup of Limoncello to the lemon syrup mixture, but you can always omit that if you don’t want to bother with it. The Mascarpone Cream is also my own touch. I adore having an excuse to make it and use it and it adds so much to a tangy dessert like this one. This is also a touch more involved than some recipes I post, but nothing you can’t handle. Like I’ve said before, just remember to get your ingredients ready beforehand and it makes putting this together a lot quicker and easier. Prep in cooking is SOOOO important.
What is a Pots de Crème btw for those of you who may not know? Simply a fancy name for a rich baked pudding/custard. This is egg yolk and cream rich so bakes up very smooth if you don’t overcook it.
You know the drill… 🙂
Lemon Pots de Crème With Mascarpone Cream
- zest of 4 lemons
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup Limoncello Liquor (optional)
- 3 1/2 heavy cream
- 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out (hold onto the pod; you’ll use it too) or 2 teaspoons good quality vanilla extract (but the sight of the speckles form the beans in there adds some visual appeal)
- 10 egg yolks (save those whites and make some meringue cookies or egg white omelets!)
- Boiling water for the water bath
- For the mascarpone cream-
- 4 ounces mascarpone cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Place 8 6 ounce ramekins inside a large baking dish. Set aside.
- In a small pot, combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the Limoncello (if using). Simmer the mix until it has reduced down to about 1/2 cup. This will take about 15 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium pot, combine the 3 1/2 cups cream, 1/4 cup of the sugar and the vanilla beans and reserved pod (if using extract instead, you’ll add it later) and bring the mixture to just below boiling over medium heat. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Gently whisk the egg yolks with the last 1/4 cup of sugar, just until smooth. Don’t make it airy, just smooth.
- Add a ladleful of the hot cream into the egg yolks, whisking the whole time. Do this one more time to temper your yolks. Whisk the egg yolk mix into the rest of the cream mixture.
- Cook slowly, stirring constantly (wooden spoons or silicone spatulas work best to make sure you hit all edges of the pot), until the mixture reaches 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Stir in the reserved lemon syrup, then strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to get rid of the lemon zest and vanilla pod. Add your vanilla extract now if that’s what you’re using.
- Divide the mixture between the ramekins and carefully transfer the whole baking dish to the 325 degree oven.
- Gently pour in boiling water, using enough to reach about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Be careful here, it’s easy to splash it into the puddings and you don’t want to do that. Cover the pan with a large sheet of foil. Don’t tighten it, just lay it over the top. This holds in the steam and also prevents browning.
- Bake at 325 for 25 to 45 minutes (start checking it at the 25 minute mark), until the Pots de Crèmes are set at just about 1/4 inch in from the edges. You’re not making a firm pudding here; these are looser. If you insert an instant read thermometer in the center, the temp should be between 150 to 155. If so, they’re ready to come out. If you’ve made other baked puddings or custards, you’ll think “no way are these done”. They ARE. They will firm up to the perfect texture as they cool. Take them one at a time out of the baking pan and let cool for about an hour at room temp, then transfer to the fridge to finish chilling and firm up.
- When ready to serve, combine all the ingredients for the mascarpone cream and beat at high speed until it forms nice creamy semi firm peaks.
- Garnish the Pots de Crème with lemon zest and the mascarpone cream. I also used some sliced Kumquats because I love them. They’re so darn cute!
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