caramel pots de creme

caramel pots de creme 4

Despite a few bumps in the road, caramel and I have always been on good terms. I’ve had a good, safe method that I’m comfortable with: add sugar and water to a pot, be careful not to get any crystals on the sides of the pot, stir in some corn syrup for safety, bring to a simmer, be careful to brush down any crystals on the sides of the pot, watch carefully while it darkens, be careful to swirl the pan instead of stir with anything that might have sugar crystals on it. It worked…as long as I was careful.

caramel pots de creme 1

I knew there was this no-water method, in which sugar is melted directly, instead of dissolved in water first. But it seemed so much safer to add water and dissolve the sugar first, despite all the being careful that that method entailed. I assumed I’d try the other method eventually, but, for years, I was nervous.

I finally took the plunge this weekend, and, friends? Dive right in, because the water is just fine.

caramel pots de creme 2

Directly melting the sugar is so much easier! Why does anyone bother with that troublesome water method? It takes twice as long, and there’s all this being careful to be careful about. Just put the sugar in a pot, turn the heat on, stir when it starts to melt and keep stirring as it darkens, which takes just a few minutes. And then if you want a real treat, mix in some heavy cream and eggs for a smooth, creamy, thick custard that has a hint of burnt sugar – a hint you hardly had to work for.

Peggy chose this recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I added a hefty pinch of salt to balance all that sugar.

One year ago: White Chocolate Brownies
Two years ago: Cappuccino Muffins
Three years ago: French Chocolate Brownies

caramel pots de creme 3


  1. What’s the deal with the sugar crystals? Why d’you have you be so careful about them?

  2. Clohee says:

    May I ask how did you make the sugar/caramel drizzle thing that you placed on top?

  3. bridget says:

    Omega – Once the caramel starts to cook, if a seed crystal (a solid sugar grain that wasn’t melted) is introduced, it encourages the rest of the liquid sugar mixture to crystallize before it cooks and darkens.

    Clohee – It’s pure cooked sugar, made exactly the same way that Dorie instructs in the pots de creme recipe. I made the caramel and then used a spoon to drizzle it onto wax paper. Do not use wax paper though! That was a mistake, because it was really difficult to get them off of the paper without breaking. Parchment paper will probably work better.

  4. Love how cute these look. Glad to hear you’ve found a new and improved method for caramel making.

  5. gorgeous! your cooked sugar topping is so elegant and professional looking!

  6. saluki says:

    Would that drizzle topping work on a Silpat?

  7. bridget says:

    saluki – I think so.

  8. I had the exact same fear. And oddly enough, even though I now know that it’s not a big deal, I still fret and worry about it every time I do it. Maybe knowing that somebody else also had an irrational fear of sugar in a pot will make my own fear easier to bear. Great post (and pics too!).

  9. Hahah. I had the same realisation. Straight up sugar is actually easier.

    The pots de creme look delicious, they’re one of my favorite desserts.