Remember pudding cups? Baileys Pot de Creme are like a luxurious, grown-up version of pudding cups flavored with plenty of Irish Cream liquor.
Pot de Creme sounds fancy, doesn’t it? The minute we see a dessert with a French name we assume it must be super complicated to make with very precise and detailed instructions.
Honestly, this is often true. But not for this dessert. It’s incredibly easy to make and has only 5 ingredients, counting the salt! And if you’re not super-fussy about the presentation, there’s a shortcut for this recipe that makes it even easier.
Do we need to “liason” the cream for smooth Pots de Creme?
When I learned how to make custard in pastry school we were taught the classic technique, that is; scald the milk (or cream), then “liason” the milk with the eggs.
A few months ago I read an article on Serious Eats (one of my favorite blogs!) which asserts there is no need to scald the milk for a custard, unless you want to infuse the custard with a flavor.
The author explains the original reason for scalding the dairy was because, in the days before pasteurization, it was necessary to heat the milk or cream to kill harmful bacteria. Since any diary product you buy today (with very few exceptions) is pasteurized, there is no need for this extra step.
Well, this made sense to me. But I Googled around to read more about it before posting this recipe with or without the scalding step.
Of course, as is typical on the internet, I found a whole bunch of blogs and message boards that asked this same question. But none of them gave a definitive answer.
Some folks decided there was no reason to scald the milk. Others insisted that scalding alters the chemistry of the milk and, therefore, the final product. But everything I read was based on opinion, with no one giving a scientific explanation for or againt scalding the milk.
I can’t run a chemical analysis in my kitchen, but I can run a kitchen experiment, which is always a good thing for a baking geek like me. Before posting this recipe, I really wanted to know if I could simply skip the scalding step altogether.
I made the custard for the Baileys Pot de Creme two different ways.
- For the first batch I used the traditional custard technique; I scalded the cream, whisked the yolks with the sugar, tempered the yolks with the cream, then strained the custard.
- For the second batch I simply mixed all the ingredients together. To make sure it was the scalding and not the straining step that could make a difference, I strained one of the custards from the simple mix as a comparison.
As you can see in the photo, the batch made without scalding has bubbles on the surface that aren’t particularly attractive. The batch made from the scalded cream had a nice, smooth top.
Even though I strained both batches, the batch that wasn’t scalded seemed to hold on to the bubbles longer so they baked into the surface of the custard.
Once I tasted both custards I discovered that the difference was mostly aesthetic. Beneath the surface the two custards were equally smooth. Eating-wise, there was no difference.
So, what’s the verdict? For me, taking the 2 minutes to scald the cream is worth the effort. The end result is prettier, and it did save 5 minutes of baking time. On the other hand, I had an extra pot to wash.
It’s up to you which way you make Baileys Pot de Creme. If you’re not fussy about having a super-smooth top, there’s no harm in skipping the scalding step. Whichever way you make it, it will be delicious.
Now that you’ve made this recipe what should you do with all the extra egg whites? Check out this collection of recipes that use extra whites for some great ideas.
What else can you do with that bottle of Baileys?
There are lots of ways to use up a bottle of Baileys Irish Cream. You can make Baileys Cheesecake, Baileys Mini Bundt Cakes, Baileys Chocolate Macarons
If you love this recipe as much as I do, please consider leaving a 5-star review.
Baileys pot de creme
Baileys Pot de Creme looks sophisticated, but they're kind of like a grown up version of pudding cups with an Irish Cream flavor. Easy to make with just 5 ingredients, and so tasty.
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 350 ml) heavy cream, plus additional cream for garnish
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (2 oz, 56g) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups (12 oz, 350 ml) Baileys Irish Cream
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a 13"x 9" baking pan or a roasting pan with a kitchen towel. Arrange 8 4-oz ramekins in the pan.
- Heat the cream and salt in a medium saucepan until scalding. (see note)
- While the cream is scalding, combine the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk the hot cream into the yolk mixture then strain the custard into a pitcher or other container with a pouring spout. Stir in the Baileys and divide the custard evenly among the ramekins.
- Place the pan into the oven and carefully pour hot water to come halfway up sides of ramekins. It's easiest to pour from one of the corners. Bake until the custards are set around the edges but still wobbly in the center, 25–30 minutes.
- Lift the ramekins out of the water and set on a cooling rack. Cool completely then refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours.
- To serve, top each dish with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream and a few chocolate shavings, if desired.
You can skip the scalding step but the custards will take about 5 minutes longer to bake and won't be as smooth on top. See the post for more information.
The Pot de Creme can be made several days ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator.
To make chocolate shavings, use a potato peeler to "shave" a chocolate bar.
For a milder Irish Cream Flavor you can use a half cup less of the Baileys and a half cup more cream.
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Wednesday 4th of December 2019
I've seen a similar experiment done with Creme Caramel. She did scalded + strained, scalded + spooning the bubbles off the top, and cold + no straining. Bubbles only appeared on the cold version. She did a second experiment in a steamer with different cooking times. She concluded that cooking too hot or for too long causes the eggs to evaporate, which causes the bubbles.
Steven P Shiflett
Sunday 18th of March 2018
Thanks for working this out! I always wondered why my custards looked so crappy. I usually butter my ramekins before filling them and serve the custard on a plate after I dump them upside down... so no one sees the ugly bubbles. (No one ever complained about the bubbles either.)
BTW - the custard I made recently, I added a dash of orange bitters which seemed to give it an extra little pep. Not sure that would be appropriate for Irish Cream - but I am always looking for a variation of this simple and classic dessert.