Lemon-Orange Blossom “Pots de Crème”
As a chef, one of the most thrilling things I experience is when I learn a new little trick or technique that makes a dish that much better (or that much easier!). I remember when I was in Turkey and witnessed a shortcut that would make baklava a quick and easy affair. And how in Ethiopian cuisine, warming chopped beef and bathing in spiced butter made a steak tartare truly legendary. It’s those little technique plays that are gratifying and why I’m so happy with this week’s lemon-orange blossom “pots de crème” recipe…
I recently read a recipe where lemon juice set a custard by simply being added to hot cream and then refrigerating. ?!?! I’ve used lemon juice in hot milk to break it and form cheese – it causes curdling, so to hear you could just add it like that and create a custard seemed quite frankly magical!
The good news is…it’s true! And so, of course, I tested a few recipes and came up with this one, which I think creates the best texture and combines the lovely citrus-y lemon with one of my favorite secret ingredients, orange blossom water. With traditional pots de crème, you have to make the custard one of the old school-styles (the two ways are, roughly: stirred on the stovetop or baked in the oven), which is to say scald cream and flavors, add egg yolks and bake in a low slow water bath until jiggly perfection like this one…. This is waaay simpler: heat cream with flavors, add lemon juice, refrigerate for a few hours…and that’s it! Enjoy!
Yields 6 5-inch oval ramekins
2 ½ cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean
¼ tsp salt
¼ cup sugar
3 tbsps honey
2 ½ tbsps orange blossom water*
1 tbsp lemon zest
7 tbsps lemon juice
In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream, vanilla bean, salt, sugar, honey, orange blossom water and lemon zest up to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover and let steep 20 minutes. Gently stir in lemon juice and strain cream mixture. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 to 5 hours until thickened (these can definitely be made a day or two ahead of time).
Serve well-chilled with fruit, if desired.
*The amount of orange blossom water really depends on the brand you are using. For mine, I used 2 ½ tablespoons, but taste yours as you add to make sure it doesn’t become too cloying.