Coffee-Cardamon Pots de Creme

After cruising the voluptuous sea of Champagne bubbles and hanging around mermaids for a few days (medically speaking i’m referring to hangover hallucinations) i took the ‘caffeine expressway’ back to reality thanks to a delicious recipe by my old boss Daniel Boulud. Recipe you can find in Cafe Boulud Cookbook.

The inspiration for these pots de creme comes from middle eastern countries where coffee is drunk through a cardamon pod held in one’s teeth. Cardamon has a sharp, round flavor almost citrusy and very erotic, i mean aromatic. Combined with coffee it goes all like ‘babboom’ followed by a ‘bang’ and stuff… ya know what i mean? What’s interesting here is the technique. The best way to extract flavor from cardamon pods and coffee beans is to cook the crushed pods and beans with sugar until the sugar caramelizes. The caramelized sugar mixture is then cooked with milk and cream and finally mixed with egg yolks. The finished product tastes like ummm…sorry there aren’t any adjectives to describe it, you’ll have to try it for yourself.

These really do pack quite a caffeine punch so if you develop a sudden urge to run around the block, climb up a tree or headbutt your doorman don’t blame me, i did warn you! Serve along with a light, crisp cookie for a nice juxtaposition of textures and you’re in heaven, these pots are pure silk!

Coffee-Cardamon Pots de Creme
(makes 6 servings)

  • 3 ounces (1 cup) coffee beans, preferably an espresso roast
  • 2 tablespoons cardamom pods
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups (approximately) heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 7 large egg yolks

1. Put the coffee beans and cardamom pods in the work bowl of a food processor and pulse on and off several times to roughly chop – not grind – them. Turn the chopped beans and pods into a medium saucepan and add 1/2 cup of the sugar. Put the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the sugar starts to melt. Patience – this will take a few minutes. Once the sugar has melted, continue to cook, still stirring without stop, until the sugar caramelizes – you want the color of the caramel to be deep, almost mahogany. Now, standing away from the stove so you don’t get splattered, slowly pour in the milk and 1 cup of the cream and all of the milk. Don’t panic – the caramel will immediately seize and harden – it will all smooth out as the liquids warm and the sugar melts again. Bring the mixture to a boil and, when the sugar has melted and everything is smooth again, pull the pan from the heat. Cover the pan (we do this with plastic wrap at the Café to get a good seal) and allow the mixture to infuse for 20 minutes.

2. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

3. Working in a bowl that’s large enough to hold all the ingredients, whisk the yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar together until the mixture is pale and thick. Strain the coffee-cardamom liquid into a measuring cup (discard the beans and pods) and add enough heavy cream to bring the liquid up to 2 cups. Very gradually and very gently – you don’t want to create air bubbles – whisk the liquid into the egg mixture; skim off the top foam, if there is any.

4. Arrange six 4-ounce espresso or custard cups in a small roasting pan, leaving an even amount of space between them, and fill each cup nearly to the top with the custard mixture. Carefully slide the pan into the oven; then, using a pitcher, fill the roasting pan with enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the espresso cups. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (don’t worry – it can stand the heat) and poke two holes in two diagonally opposite corners. Bake the custards for 40 minutes, or until the edges darken ever so slightly and the custards are set but still jiggle a little in the center when you shake them gently.

5. Remove the pan from the oven and let the custards sit in the water bath for 10 minutes. Lift the cups out of the water and cool the custards in the refrigerator. (The pots de crème can be prepared a day ahead and stored in the refrigerator; when they are cool, cover them with plastic wrap.) To Serve: The pots de crème are at their best at room temperature, so remove them from the refrigerator and keep them on the counter for about 20 minutes before serving.

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  • waliz

    i’m glad u survived zen…did u see me in the mermaid costume? hehehe..

    i like the recipe but i dont like cardamon…wht more to held it in my teeth..!but i’m glad it will save me frm run around the block!

  • Ann

    Mmmmm… I am so going to make this.

  • eva

    De la douceur pour démarrer en beauté la nouvelle année !
    Happy new year !

  • Katy

    Oh yum! I’m doing cardamom ice cream for a dinner party on sunday — my first time cooking with the actual pods!

  • Chicken & Waffles

    Is that a dessert? Or my perfect day at a day spa? Looks like a submursion tank to me, Zen Man!

  • beachlover

    Happy New Year to you!!..How many mermaid did you see??.hahaha!!..Hmmm…coffee Cardamon Pots De Creme it’s really look yummy,like cream Brulee..Hope it cure your hangover..Take care

  • foodhuntress79

    You know that painful feeling when you see something so delicious and your saliva starts to collect at the base of your jaw? That’s what I get reading your post- can almost smell the coffee,too :)

  • Big Boys Oven

    this is lovely……the smeal of both coffee and spice enriched de creme! remarkable!

  • b

    As always, you make me drool with these recipes! I keep saying this but I have to try this recipe. I need to stop waiting for you to magically appear and make them for me! :)

  • Julie

    Foodhuntress79, I’m with you! That’s exactly how I feel after reading this post.

    Something about the little pots de creme reminded me of pumpkin, like really creamy pumpkin. Only it would taste like coffee. And cardamon. Yum.

  • Sofia

    Cardamon- this really helps with nausea and upset stomach. I drink Cardamon tea a lot. Yummy.

  • La Belette Rouge

    Love cardamon. I have never had it combined with coffee. Sounds so yummy and it has a caffeine kick and no unsightly cardamon pod littering the lips. Delightful :-)

  • Zen Chef

    Waliz you should force cardamon on yourself, it’s an aphrodisiac!! oh but wait…you don’t need aphrodisiacs!! haha should! :-)

    Merci Eva! et Bonne Annee pleine de douceurs!

    Hi Katy and welcome. I love Cardamon…it’s so exotic!

    C&W, actually you can use that stuff for facials too! hehe :-)

    Beachlover…mermaids…everywhere!! My head is still spinning! haha

    Foodhuntress i know EXACTLY what you mean. That’s what happens to me when i look at the beautiful panna cotta of yours! :-)

    Big boys oven…it’s a lovely recipe indeed!

    B, haha…If you were living in brooklyn or something maybe i could but Portland is a bit far unfortunately! :-)

    Julie, i’m with you and foodhuntress! Let’s all move in together! haha 😉

    Sofia i didn’t know that! No guilt then if it has a therapetic effect? hehe

    LBR…It is delightful and without pods getting stuck in between your teeth, i agree it a plus! :-)

  • waliz

    yes zen..god has been very kind to me..i dont need ANY! hehehe

    hmmm…how do u know tht huh???

  • myfrenchkitchen

    Your pot de creme looks absolutely divin… I think I’ll wait just until febraury and then I’ll have go at it…love the cardamom touch.

  • AzAzura

    I love creamy desserts ,but not into coffee but this Pots de creme look sexy! cofee and cardamon , unpredictably classy, wanna try this.

    P.S: You worked with Boulud before?!! cool , He is in my “food heroes” book alongside Charlie Trotter Anthony Bourdain , Michelle Bernstein , Grant Achutz and Zen Chef !

  • Zen Chef

    Waliz, how do i know?…huh i think it’s my sixth sense telling me! haha

  • Zen Chef

    Azazura…awww, i’m one of your food heroes? I’m so proud right now! hehehe 😉

  • Zen Chef

    Ronell, thanks for visiting! Tell me what you think when you do try them! :-)

  • Tartelette

    Pots de creme is my cofort food. Made some the other day and enjoyed it while every one was asleep.I brew my coffee with cardamom pods,so I can see how the combo would be terrific in the pots!

  • Zen Chef

    Oh Tartelette, thanks for the tip! Brewing coffee with cardamon pods sounds terrific! I’ll try that!

  • Cakespy

    I am a sucker for cardamom–and this is an amazing and inspiring use :-)

  • Anali

    These look so good, but 7 egg yolks! I don’t know if I could bring myself to do it! : )

  • daphne

    what a creative dessert. The flavours certainly blend well together. Yummy!

  • SteamyKitchen

    yum. that is my kind of dessert. i’ve never made pots de creme before. shame on me!

  • Zen Chef

    Cakespy, give it a try and let me know what you think! :-) Thanks for stopping by!

  • Zen Chef

    Anali, the recipe makes 6 servings so 7 egg yolks isn’t too
    bad! At least by my standards! haha

  • Zen Chef

    Daphne! you’ve said it…it’s yummy!

  • Zen Chef

    Jaden!!…You have to try this, you don’t know what you’ve missed!
    Pots de creme are really easy!

  • kinni

    I turn my back for a couple of weeks and the man makes a dessert I find appealing. I guess it’s true what they say about watched blogs. I love cardamom in any form, even flavoured bidis. I imagine it really curbs the sweetness.

  • nuage de lait

    je ne suis pas au top en anglais, du coup pour la traduction de la recette….Pas évident mais j’ai tout de même compris de quoi il s’agit. Dommage que je ne comprenne pas l’ensemble car cette recette me semble terrible

  • Zen Chef

    Kinni! Nice to see you here!
    Somehow, i knew you would like this one. I feel victorious now. haha

  • Zen Chef

    Nuage de lait, qu’est ce que tu ne comprends pas? Les mesures? Je peux t’aider si tu veux. :-)

  • large plastic pots

    This is the great blog, I’m reading them for a while,
    thanks for the new posts!