Espresso Pots de Creme


A little French classic from way back – Pots de Creme are simple, yet delicious baked custard creams served in ‘pots’ – often ceramic dishes or tea or coffee cups. They can be flavoured in whatever way floats your boat – chocolate, butterscotch and citrus are common variations, but I opted for coffee flavoured. This recipe is sourced from It’s a lovely treat in the evening – the dessert version of an after-dinner coffee.


Serves 6


  • 1/2 cup whole regular espresso beans
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup sugar (to taste)
  • 1 whole vanilla bean (cut down the middle and seeds extracted)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 150°C (300°F). Lightly crush the espresso beans – you can put the beans into a plastic bag and smash them with a rolling pin, or pop them into a food processor and pulse them for a few seconds. Transfer the beans to a saucepan, add the heavy cream, milk, sugar and vanilla bean/seeds and bring to scalding (just prior to the boil) over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove pot from the heat, cover and set aside for a half hour (if you want a stronger coffee flavour, you can leave for up to an hour).
  2. Boil a jug of water to use for the bain marie. Strain the coffee bean mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a pourable bowl or jug, and chuck out the solids. Whisk the yolks in a bowl until frothy then add about 1/2 cup of the still warm milk mixture while whisking constantly (this tempers the yolks and ensures they don’t curdle). Pour the warmed yolk mixture back into the milk mixture while whisking constantly until well combined. Then add the vanilla and salt.
  3. Put six small ramekins or oven proof tea or coffee cups into a large, deep baking dish. It helps to put a folded tea-towel into the dish first to keep the dishes steady. Divide the mixture evenly between the dishes then carefully pour enough hot water into the baking dish to reach about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Cover the whole dish loosely with foil and put onto the centre oven rack.
  4. Bake until set around the edges and a bit jello-like in the middle – don’t overcook them, or they turn grainy and eggy – for around 30-40 minutes (mine actually took 45 minutes) – then very carefully take out of the water bath and let cool. Once completely cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours before serving, or overnight. I find they taste better if you take them out of fridge for about 20 minutes before serving. Top with chocolate covered coffee-beans, or a dollop of cream and grated dark chocolate.

Food Photography Info: Canon 550D (EOS Rebel T2i); Canon 50mm 1.8 lens / Natural lighting


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