Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Pots de Crème

Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Pots de CrèmeGo ahead, call me a curmudgeon, a cynic, an eye-roller. A grump, a sourpuss, a grumbler. A killjoy, a grouser, a mutterer. A crab, a sorehead, a miserablist. A gloomy Gus, a doubting Thomas. Go on, I can take it. 

The truth is, I think Valentine’s Day is a crock of $&@%.

I think it’s a made-up holiday designed to make single people feel bad and coupled people spend money. It’s a scam, people! *
 
Now, while I may be an anarchist at heart, I am also a hypocrite so, while I don’t require a fancy dinner out, I do enjoy a nice Valentine’s Day dessert. 
 
(*Full disclosure – I’m married to a wonderful man who has taken me out many times to delicious, romantic Valentine’s Day dinners. I still think it’s a scam, but a girl can only take the moral high-ground so far before someone waves a confit duck leg under her nose and then all bets are off.) 

Salted Caramel Brown Sugar Pots de Crème

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Butterscotch Pudding: A Love Story

Butterscotch Pudding

This post is kind of dedicated to two people, and the first one is me (Matt).

At the age of, oh, about 12, I don’t think there was a single thing in the world – except perhaps, mashed potatoes – that I loved with all my heart more than butterscotch flavored Angel Delight. Pudding, to you.

(Notes – 1: Yes, we’re really big on singing made-up words like “De-smoothest” in British commercials. 2: Apparently, we like throwing maraschino cherries on top of everything, for no damn reason that I can think of. And 3: strawberry pudding is pretty foul. Other than that, 4: you get the idea.)

On as many separate occasions as I could get away with, I would steal down to the kitchen while my parents were elsewhere, mix up a bowl of Angel Delight – butterscotch only – and take it up to my room, wait for it to set, and have myself a little butterscotch pudding party for one. I’d hide the bowl under my bed behind a stash of Doctor Who books, and pig out for as long as I remembered the bowl was still there. (Sometimes I would forget. Sorry, Mum.)

The second person I want to dedicate this to is Fringe scientist Walter Bishop, because … because if you don’t love Walter Bishop loving pudding, you have a dead black heart and you probably work in finance.

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I don’t know what Angel Delight did to corner the market in gelatinous butterscotch-flavored dessert, but I never found a packaged version that stood up to their original recipe. We returned from England last spring with three butterscotch pudding packets, now just a delicious memory. So I decided to make some from scratch.

This recipe from the Pizzeria Locale in Denver, described by Melissa Clark at the Times – didn’t seem too tricky – the only cautious stage is cooking the sugar to the correct temperature. She recommends a candy thermometer – I haven’t had luck with the kind that clip to the side of the pan, they tend to slip around, and with a relatively small amount of caramel, the base of the thermometer isn’t guaranteed to sit comfortably in the mix. So I prefer to use our Thermapen (made in England, don’t you know), which has a really fast digital readout with great accuracy. The only thing I don’t like about it is that it powers down after a couple of minutes unless you deactivate it by closing and re-opening it, so if you’re focused on caramelizing sugar, it can be a pain to have to wake up the thermometer at a crucial moment.

That’s all the nerdy gadgetry for this recipe; everything else is quite standard.

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