Christmas (Re)Past

By: thesavorytart

Dec 28 2011

Category: Dessert


We were missing something this Christmas. In a word, Reed.  After 23 solid years of our cheeriest leaving cookies for the big guy in red, waking everyone up before dawn, and generally bringing the holiday spirit, our boy Reed spent this 25th of December in his new hometown of New Orleans.  Gumbo instead of gumdrops, jazz over jingle, and Christmas on Canal Street for our little big man.

Although I loved my delicious babies, the older they got, the more I liked ’em.  They just kept up their end of the conversation better, you know?  Plus, I was just thrilled to bits with each new thing they could achieve.  I always understood that from the day they were born, they were walking away from me. That’s their job.  My job was to let them.  Still, when we started looking at colleges with Reed, I found myself thinking, “I thought I had more time…to teach you things, to shape you more, to be better at this whole parenting thing.”  I don’t know if I’ll ever get any better — the truth is, you’re always a “new” parent, because as soon as you get the diapers and tricycles figured out, there’s college admissions or romantic advice or tips on how to navigate the job market. I can tell you this: if I met Reed today, he is someone who I would want to get to know better.  He’s the kind of person you miss having around…and not just on Christmas.

Because he wasn’t with us, it meant he missed the silky sublime Butterscotch Pots De Crème we whipped up. From cooked stovetop pudding to the satisfying snap of the Swiss Miss foil lid being peeled back, I’m a custard connoisseur who knows how to crack a creme brûlée.  But ever since we tried the Butterscotch Budino at Four Swallows here on Bainbridge Island, it’s been something I’ve wanted to try to replicate at home.  This version uses both Muscovado and Demerara sugars, and that little combo is what seems to but the scotch in your butter.  According to, Muscovado sugar crystals are “slightly coarser and stickier in texture than regular brown sugar.”  The darker the sugar, the higher the molasses content.  As for Demerara sugar, it’s the absence of molasses that makes it what it is:  a coarse-textured, dry raw sugar that’s sparkly delicious.

Butterscotch Pots De Crème
Adapted from Gourmet, 2003
1½ c. heavy cream
6 T. dark Muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
6 T. water
2 T. Demerara sugar
4 large egg yolks
½ tsp. vanilla
Fresh whipped cream, chocolate shavings or fresh berries for garnish (optional)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 300° F.  Bring cream, Muscovado sugar and salt just to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  In a separate heavy 2-quart saucepan, bring water and Demerara sugar to a boil over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved.  Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and bubbly, about five minutes.  Remove from heat and carefully add cream mixture, whisking all the while until combined.
Whisk together yolks and vanilla in a large bowl, then add hot cream mixture in a thin stream, whisking all the while.  Pour custard through a fine sieve into a 1-quart glass measure. (We used a Pyrex bowl). Skim off any foam with a spoon.
Divide custard among six 4-ounce ramekins.  Arrange ramekins in a small roasting pan and bake in a hot water bath, uncovered, until custards are set around the edges but still tremble slightly at the center, about 40 minutes. (Ours took an extra five minutes or so).  Transfer ramekins to a rack with tongs to cool to warm or room temperature; custards will continue to set as they cool.  Serves six. (You can make the custard a day ahead and store covered in the fridge in the glass measure.  Transfer to ramekins and bake the next day.  If you have any leftover pots de crèmes, press some plastic wrap down on the tops when you store them in the fridge to prevent that icky pudding skin from forming).



2 comments on “Christmas (Re)Past”

  1. This is so sweet Vicki. I often think of you when I gaze at my boys and hope they don’t get any bigger.

  2. yup, we made dylan promise not to grow up…he broke his promise, but it’s turned out okay:) happy new year, dana treat!

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