reason to move to LA - butterscotch pots de creme at gjelina
I really like LA. A lot. And I try to go as often as possible. Los Angeles provides a soothing balm to New York’s ever lengthening winter (i.e. why is it snowing in March and barely above freezing in April?). More importantly, LA is the perfect antidote to the unsavory sights and smells of a steamy New York August (by the by, the odors wafting through the 2nd Ave. F Train stop on a hot summer day might cause irreversible damage to your psyche). Both Renato and I would love to open a Baked in the LA area one of these days. Until then, we will continue to visit in the name of dessert “research”.
Sadly, it should be noted that many reasonable New Yorkers make a blood sport of attacking LA as nothing more than a soulless, vapid wasteland. Ironically, these are the same people that flock to the Hamptons, Miami, Fire Island and etc… I feel sorry for these dour individuals. They don’t get the city that I love.
I love the light, the colors, the canyons, the weather (obviously) and the semi-relaxed atmosphere that pervades everything and everybody. I love the burgers at In-N-Out, the pizzas at Mozza, and the incomprehensible menu at Jitlada. I also love the mole poblano con pollo at the Loteria Grill at the Farmers Market (I go every visit) and I am officially (unhealthily) obsessed with the Butterscotch Pots de Crème at Gjelina.
If you go to LA, you should try to go to Gjelina (perk: it is near the beach). You should also probably order their other desserts (and anything on the menu), but I highly recommend you order at least 1.5 butterscotch pots de crème for every person at your table. You will not want to share this. It will kill you to do so.
Thankfully, the LA Times published an adapted version of this recipe by Travis Lett of Gjelina. It has helped me cope with my addiction in between visits “out west”. This recipe (like most pots de crème recipes) comes together quickly and without a lot of fuss. It is also a perfect “make ahead” dessert – and it really wows at a dinner party.
I made just a few changes to the original recipe. I scaled it down per the advice of Shauna Sever (the original recipe makes A TON, and it is too tempting to eat the leftovers), added a dose of Scotch (why not), subbed vanilla bean paste for the vanilla bean (figured most of you don’t have vanilla beans on hand), and I just use the classic Baked caramel (recipe here) for the drizzle.
Butterscotch Pot de Crème from Travis Lett of Gjelina
6 large egg yolks (use farm fresh eggs with the beautiful yellow yolks if you can)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
2 ⅓ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
1 tablespoon (or more) of good Scotch whiskey
⅔ cup crème fraîche
sweet and salty caramel, for serving
chunky fleur de sel, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place 6 or 8 coffee cups (or tea cups or ramekins) in a roasting pan and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolk until combined.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter and brown sugar. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Whisking constantly, cook for 3 to 4 minutes until mixture smells nutty. Slowly add the heavy cream in a slow stream while gently whisking. (The mixture may harden or turn lumpy in spots – don’t worry, this will smooth out as it cooks). Continue whisking/stirring (be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the pan) and bring the cream just to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, vanilla bean paste, and Scotch.
Whisking constantly, slowly (very slowly at first) stream the cream mixture into the egg mixture until combined. Pour the mixture through a fine-mess sieve into another bowl (sorry about all the bowls).
Divide the custard equally among the coffee cups (or whatever vessel you are using), and carefully pour hot tap water into the roasting pan until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the coffee cups. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until the custards are set around the edge but still wobbly in the middle. Remove the coffee cups from the water, let cool for 10 minutes, and refrigerate (uncovered) for at least 3 hours.
To serve: let the pots de crème sit out of the refrigerator for about 15 minutes. Then top with whipped crème fraîche (just whisk vigorously by hand) followed by a healthy dose of sweet and salty caramel and fleur de sel.
Supposedly, these only last a day or two, covered tightly, in the refrigerator HOWEVER I have tasted on day 3 and 4 and have absolutely zero complaints.