Butterscotch Pot de Crème (and Pumpkin Version for Fall)

Butterscotch Pot de Crème | Photo by Zoë François

I developed this butterscotch pot de crème recipe for Tilia‘s dessert menu. Steven Brown, the chef/owner wanted a turbo charged version of the butterscotch pudding from his childhood. We went with a Pot de crème, which is essentially as decadent as creme brulee, without the crack of caramel resting on top. The texture is like silk and the taste is lightly sweet, with just a slight bitter edge from the burnt sugar in the butterscotch. Cooking the butter and brown sugar together until it is smokin’ hot (and I do mean smoking) is the key to the flavor. If you don’t bring them to the brink of burning the pudding will be way too sweet for my taste. The crème fraîche (young sour cream) is unsweetened and the perfect balance for the pudding. If you don’t happen to live near Linden Hills (a small village of a neighborhood in Minneapolis), where you can order this at Tilia, you can now make it at home.

You can watch me make this Buttercotch Pot de Crème on my instagram stories.

Butterscotch Pot de Crème | Photo by Zoë François

Tilia’s Butterscotch Pot de Crème

makes about twelve 2 1/2-ounce servings

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cup brown sugar, well packed

4 cups heavy cream

1 vanilla bean, scraped

1/2 teaspoon salt

8 large egg yolks

Crème fraiche:

2 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup buttermilk

Stir the buttermilk into the cream and let sit at room temperature for 8 hours or until thick. Refrigerate. Can be made a few days ahead.

To make the Butterscotch (watch my video of making this on instagram):

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

In a medium sized heavy-bottomed sauce pot, cook the butter and brown sugar together over medium heat.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

Stir with a wooden spoon or carefully whisk (be sure to use the right kind of whisk (Egg Whisk) or the sugar will get caught in the wires). The sugar and butter will separate at first, but as the sugar melts it will become easier to blend them together.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

Cook and stir until the sugar melts and the butter/sugar mixture just starts to brown, it will start to smoke slightly as well.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

Slowly add the cream, one cup at a time.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

It will sputter and sieze up as you add the cold cream. Cook the butterscotch until the seized sugar dissolves again. Add the rest of the cream, vanilla bean and salt.

To make the custard:

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly add some of the hot butterscotch-cream to the yolks as you whisk them. You are just adding enough of the warm cream to warm the yolks slightly.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

Once the yolks are warm to the touch, pour the yolks back into the pot of hot butterscotch-cream and gently whisk.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

Strain the mixture. (I made a giant batch, that is why I have so many vanilla beans in this shot)

To bake the custard: Preheat the oven to 325°F.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

Divide the custard into the eight 4-ounce ramekins. Place them in a water batch and tent with foil. It is important that the water in the pan is hot and comes half way up the side of the ramekins, so that it will reach oven temperature quickly. Using cool water will prevent them from baking evenly.

Bake for 25 to 40 minutes. This will depend on the temperature of the mixture when you put it in the oven. Best to check them after 25 minutes and gauge how much longer they need. Unlike a cake, you can open the oven and check them as often as you like without hurting them. The best way to check if they are done is to gently tap the side of each ramekin. If the custard ripples like water, it needs to bake longer. If it moves like set jell-o, then it is done. Be careful not to over bake them or they will be grainy and “eggy.”

Remove the pan from the oven and allow the custards to cool in the water bath. Once they have reached room temperature, you can remove them from the bath, cover them and refrigerate for at least an hour, but they can be made a few days in advance.

How to make Butterscotch Pot de Crème

To serve the butterscotch pot de crème: Spread a thin layer of unsweetened crème fraîche over the top of the custard.

I like the contrast of the unsweetened crème fraiche and the sweet pudding, but you can add a touch of sugar if it is too stark for your taste. Or serve it with nothing at all.

Beautiful white and blue mugs for Butterscotch Pot de Crème | Photo by Zoë François

Butterscotch Pot de Crème | Photo by Zoë François

*For a pumpkin version of this just substitute one cup of the heavy cream with 1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree and add 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Add the pumpkin and spice after you have added all the yolks and cream to the mixture.

51 thoughts to “Butterscotch Pot de Crème (and Pumpkin Version for Fall)”

  1. These look fabulous and I have just an occasion to make them for. One quick question though. You mention to bake them 25 to 40 minutes. What are we looking for to know they are finished because you also mention not over baking them or they’ll be too eggy/stringy? Is it like a cheesecake where you are looking for it to be “set”?

  2. Perfect timing! I was planning on making butterscotch pudding for a friend who has a hankering for the sweet treat and wasn’t sure what recipe to use. It will be a fun surprise for her tomorrow! Thanks!

  3. Oh, how FANTASTIC!! I have two recurring dreams since moving far away from Tilia, where I used to be able to walk 4 blocks anytime I had a hankering! The grilled shrimp with peas and fermented bean sauce and YOUR Pot de Crème! I may just have to make a big bucket of it and pretend I am sitting there with you!

    Now, if only I had the shrimp recipe…..work on that for me, will you? 😉

    xo J

  4. I love this dessert! I’d also love to know where you got the containers you baked/served them in pictures above? Thanks for sharing, Zoe!

  5. Zoe, I love that you made this all from scratch and I can barely drag my eyes away – so luscious and so decadent! Love this pudding… I am featuring this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. It’s a pleasure following your creations…

  6. Zoe, these are delicious!! i made them yesterday for my daughter who loves caramel. From the leftover whites, i made financiers. Not knowing that i was baking, she stopped at Payard’s bakery and picked up four mini desserts for the family. And with all those to sample from, these pot de cremes were everybody’s favorite. Thanks for sharing the recipe. i will post the Turkish version with a link to your beautiful blog in a couple of days in in my blog.

    1. Hi Zinnur,

      Thank you for the lovely note! I am thrilled that you made the custard and ate them next to Payard’s gorgeous treats! 😉

      I would love to see your Turkish version!

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. ooohhh, Zoe, i just made my first ever pots de creme last week and was feeling so proud of myself, and now you call it a pudding – booo 😉
    Pudding or not, your recipe sounds absolutely delish, and I have to try it. Besides, I just learned from your post that butterscotch is made of butter and brown sugar (and not from some mysterious, possibly alcoholic ingredients as I had assumed before 🙂 ). So even more reason to make it! And the photo looks gorgeous – love that yellowish color – so happy! I hope you don’t mind if I pin it on Pinterest as a reminder.

  8. Zoe,I love how you write ‘to the point’,yet covering all the essential details!:-)
    The pictures are very beautiful!And even though I have a major sweet tooth,and hence all desserts are a treat to my taste buds,butterscotch is one of my favorites!
    I am bookmarking/noting this recipe down.
    Thank you for sharing!:-)

  9. I have been experimenting with my first creme brulees and custards since the first of this year…and loving it. Your butterscotch version is incredibly beautiful, and I’m thinking I need to make another trip to Tilia, if only to order this!

  10. Oh, dear! I can’t have sweets – doctor’s orders… But I can still feast on your beautifully executed photos!!! It just makes me wonder how come the photos in your blog are better than the photos in Artisan bread book?
    Love your recipes! Love your approach to food! Just wish my health would allow me to indulge in such delicious things!

  11. Thank you so much for the amazing recipe. I can’t wait to try it!

    I saw an earlier commenter asking this, but don’t see the answer. Would you mind letting us know how we tell when it has baked long enough? I would sure hate to ruin this amazing dessert by messing up the baking time.

    Again, thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Sue,

      I just added some details to the baking instructions that I think will help. Please let me know if this still doesn’t seem clear.

      Thanks and enjoy! Zoë

  12. I made these yesterday and they were fabulous! We didn’t use any topping at all, it was so wonderful by itself. My mom thought that the taste was exactly like a burnt sugar frosting that my grandma used to make for her spice cake. So at our house these will be known as Burnt Sugar Pots de Creme. Thanks for the great recipe and memory!

  13. Hi Zoe:) Im a long time lover of your blog and recipes – I saw this one a couple of nights ago and couldnt wait to make it – your instructions were so perfect and they turned out AMAZING. Like silky smooth cream – unbelieveable. Thanks soo much:) Just bought your Artisan bread book last week – cant WAIT to get stuck into it!

    1. Hi Riki,

      Thank you for trying the recipe, so glad you liked it! And, thanks for picking up the book. I hope you enjoy all the bread you bake!

      Cheers, Zoë

  14. I’ve only tried crème brûlée once and I couldn’t get the sugar hot enough to caramelise, so this looks perfect! I’m a little nervous about the smoking caramel (I live in a studio with a smoke alarm a metre away from my hobs) but they look easy enough.

  15. You have no idea how excited I was to find this. When my boyfriend and I went to Tilia, he about died over this dessert. This is literally one of his favorite things he’s ever eaten, and I am SO excited to make these for him! I’m going to make them as a Valentine’s Day surprise!

  16. My mom loves butterscotch and I would love to make this for her. But is there any way I can print out the recipe without (your beautiful) photos? I love looking at these pictures, but printing them out means many pages of paper and ink. Thanks!

    1. Hi Sheli,

      The only way to do it, is to copy the post and put it in Word, then errase the pictures. Sorry, I am working on a better printing option.

      Thanks, Zoë

    1. Hi April,

      You can’t freeze custard or it “breaks” or separates and doesn’t have the smooth texture. The only way to freeze custard is to churn it into ice cream.

      Thanks, Zoë

  17. I love this dessert at tilia, so much! We just got it wih a take out order and my almost 2 year old devoured his portion faster than he’s ever eaten anything. I am so thrilled you have posted this recipe online with such great instructions…I’m thinking i might have to make this in place of birthday cake!

  18. Zoe, The photo you posted for butterscotch pots de creme shows much more butter than your recipe called for, which is only 4 tablespoons,
    yet the photo shows much more. Is this a typo or what?
    Thanks,

    1. Hi Byra,

      I was making a giant batch for a photo shoot, so sorry for the confusion. The recipe is correct as written.

      Thanks, Zoë

  19. I have to say, mine turned out better than the one I odered at Tilia. The butterscotch creme seemed richer and I used better creme fraiche – theirs reminded me of goat cheese.

  20. I always struggle with the straining part of these things. Are you using just a standard mesh strainer? This is the perfect addition to my “deconstructed pie bar” where I serve this along with your amazing lemon curd, whipped cream, creme fraiche, cocowhip (the best product ever), fresh berries and rhubarb w/thyme and champagne compote, and organic white peaches mascerated with Jamaican rum and turbidino sugar with my little signature pie crust tortilla chips for dipping. You inspire me Zoe! You are simply the best!

  21. I’ve made these custards twice, and my friends and family loved them…even my sister who doesn’t “like” custard. I replaced the brown sugar with sucanat for a healthier version and it also adds to the caramel flavor. So thanks for the awesome recipe!

  22. I made these as a treat during quarantine. Added a couple of dashes of coffee liqueur. And topped with a Graham Cracker Meringue (to use up the egg whites). Delicious. Thanks for the great recipe.

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