When my world gets a touch hectic, I frequently turn to the simple pleasures of life to help me pause and enjoy the world around me. For me, comfort foods (in moderation) are one of those pleasures that is indispensable. My favorites are tea and fancy desserts. There is nothing more rejuvenating than taking a little time out of a busy day to sip an intoxicating tea from a foreign land while cracking into a crème brûlée. Therefore, when Four Cafe (a favorite neighborhood spot) added an Earl Grey Pot De Crème to their menu, I was intrigued. Two of my favorite things – Earl Grey tea and pot de crème – together in one tiny jar. I, of course, ordered it. It was yummy. The earthiness of the Earl Grey tea combined with the silky custard was satisfying.
The Earl Grey Pot De Crème at Four Cafe inspired me to pull out my old pot de crème recipe and add tea as the flavoring. I have done this before with flan and chocolate truffles. The results were fantastic – the tea made an already good recipe even better and more complex. So I set out on my new cooking adventure with tea. I infused the half-and-half with an extra bergamot Earl Grey tea and added a little lemon zest to bring out the citrus notes. It turned out perfectly – one of my best concoctions of all times. A soft, creamy custard with bright citrus flavors and a slight hint of smoky black tea. I decided to enjoy it along with another one of my favorite small pleasures – a bubble bath.
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 4 tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea leaves
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a small saucepan, bring the half-and-half to boil. Turn the heat off. Add the tea, cover, and let it steep for 20 minutes.
- While the half-and-half is steeping, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest, and salt. When the half-and-half is done steeping, add the warm tea mixture to the egg mixture and whisk.
- Strain the mixture, making sure that as much liquid as possible is extracted from the tea leaves. Discard the leaves.
- Place four large (8 oz. or 10 oz.) ramekin dishes in a baking dish. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish until the water is half way up the sides of the ramekin dishes. Fill the ramekins with the custard mixture. Cover loosely with aluminum foil. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove from the oven. Place the ramekins on a wire rack and let them cool for an hour. Chill in the refrigerator. Pot de crème will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days (maybe even longer).
This article has been reformatted and updated from the original February 2011 publication.