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pots de creme vs creme brulee

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14 replies to this topic

#1 QbanCrackr

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 04:49 PM

i did a quick search on google + eG and didn't really find anything helpful, so i ask you - whats the difference between pots de creme & creme brulee?

to my understanding theyre both cooked custards, no? same base ingredients (eggs, cream, sugar) and both can be baked or cooked over the stovetop.

is the only main difference the burnt sugar?

#2 Lisa Shock

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 05:12 PM

Yes. Creme brulee has the burnt sugar, pots de creme are exactly the same thing just no sugar on top. (But, maybe some fruit jam at the bottom, or fruit compote, or an additional flavor to the custard, etc.) Pots de creme made with raspberry jam at the bottom are very, very good. (as long as the jam is high quality)

#3 tim

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 05:14 PM


Pots de creme has no "brulee", caramelized sugar on top.


#4 QbanCrackr

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Posted 21 December 2009 - 05:17 PM

ok great, thats what i was hoping to hear :)


#5 Shalmanese

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 12:17 AM

I also thought pots de creme tends to be leaner, made with whole milk or half & half compared to the heavy cream of creme brulee.
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#6 rooftop1000

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 07:43 AM

All these comments are exactly what I thought pots du creme was until I ordered it at Nice Matin (NYC) last month. The menu said Dark Chocolate Pots du Creme...I was served a 6oz ramekin filled with something about 1 degree lighter than Ganache with a dollop of fresh whipped cream on it. Not that I am complaining AT ALL but it really wasn't what I expected.

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#7 jsmeeker

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 09:33 AM

So, what makes a pot de creme different than a creme caramel? I guess it's the caramel? Does a pot de creme have SOMETHING in the bottom (or on top, if served on a plate)? Usually, I associate pots de creme with chocolate and I don't think I've seen them with something else in there.

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#8 TimmDavis

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 10:41 AM

So, what makes a pot de creme different than a creme caramel? I guess it's the caramel? Does a pot de creme have SOMETHING in the bottom (or on top, if served on a plate)? Usually, I associate pots de creme with chocolate and I don't think I've seen them with something else in there.

As far as I knew, Pots de Creme were chocolate based, at least in the places I've worked they've all been chocolate.

#9 tim

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 11:11 AM


Yes, chocolate is what we think of with pots de creme. Vanilla pots de creme is a traditional dessert.


#10 Lisa Shock

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 11:16 AM

Creme caramel is flan, which is the one generally made with less cream and the addition of milk.

I recall having pots de creme with raspberry jam back in the 1960's at some fancy french place. Chocolate is one possible flavor, but, this dessert is very old and predates commercial chocolate production (mid-1800's) It also predates commercial cocoa production, which started in the 1500's in the west. It's thought to date way back in history, if you accept honey instead of sugar, since cream custards were fairly easy for wealthy Greeks and Romans to have made. (you need an oven, which, only rich households or bakers had)

Careme made creme brulee and it was an old, classical dish for him. Other flavored custards appear in his books, no chocolate.

Escoffier, in Le guide Culinaire, refers to them as Creme Moulee, and states that they are molded in petite pots. He recommends infusions of nuts, liqueurs, and flowers in addition to the vanilla bean. He warns that fruits do not work as well unless the flavor is very concentrated. No mention of chocolate.

#11 sickchangeup

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Posted 22 December 2009 - 11:41 AM

My only experience with these "head to head" is at Per Se, where they serve both at the end of a meal sometimes.

The pot de creme has a firm white yogurty/heavy creamy & tangy top layer, under which is some form of fruit layer - guava for example. It's 2 complete and distinct layers, neither more than a half an inch thick in this mini-dessert format. When you spoon in, you grab a bit of both. From above it just looks white.

The creme brulle is what most of us know it as - a rich yellow cream, flecked with vanilla, with a torched crunchy sugar topping.

The two are night and day based on what I've had.

Edited by sickchangeup, 22 December 2009 - 11:42 AM.

#12 Octaveman

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Posted 23 December 2009 - 01:24 AM

Pots de Creme are not just chocolate or vanilla or the like. Many are savory and my all time favorite is a Crab Pot de Creme at this website...


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#13 christinajun

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 09:51 PM

Pot de creme is a French dessert that consists of a chilled custard served in ramekins, translates to "pot of cream" derived from the fact that it is served in small dishes or "pots." The traditional flavor is vanilla, but also may be chocolate, coffee, or whatever other flavor you may enjoy, including savory versions. They tend to be slightly lighter than creme brulee, being made with both milk and cream, although some recipes may call for only cream.

Creme brulee is another French dessert that consists of a chilled custard topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. Creme brulee recipes call for only cream, creating a richer custard.

Creme caramel is the same as flan, a custard dessert with a layer of soft caramel. Both names are French as well, but have different meanings in different regions. Also, creme caramel is not as rich as a pot de creme or creme brulee, being made with milk instead of cream (or milk and cream), and both whole eggs and egg yolks.

#14 Tri2Cook

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Posted 27 December 2009 - 10:22 PM

I've had custards of varying degrees of richness and thickness and in all sorts of flavors from assorted places under each name with the only consistent dividing factor being the sugar on top (or not). That may not be the defining difference to a food historian or pastry instructor but it's the only reliable dividing point I've found in the real world. For me personally, when I'm doing the cooking, the pots de creme will be slightly less firm. A spoonful of my creme brulee can be "cut" away from the rest leaving a clean dividing point. My pots de creme will tend to grab the spoon a bit kinda like pudding. But I'm sure someone else out there defines theirs in exactly the opposite way so add a sugar crust or don't and call it whatever makes you happy.
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#15 CanadianBakin'

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Posted 28 December 2009 - 09:56 AM

This article by Joanne Chang, owner of the Flour Bakery Cafes and frequent contributor to Fine Cooking magazine, gives a great explanation.

If you don't subscribe to finecooking.com here's an excerpt:

How are they all related?
One day, after months of making hundreds of custards, it hit me: all these desserts are the same. Crème caramel is a baked custard that's cooked in a caramel-lined ramekin; crème brûlée is a baked custard that's topped with a sheer, crackly layer of caramelized sugar; and pot de crème is, well, a baked custard.

Same technique, but different results. You'll notice that all three custards share the same mixing and baking techniques. Look closer, however, and you find that the proportions for each custard vary and that, while the variations seem small, they actually correspond to a different result.

Crème brûlée is the richest of the three. All heavy cream and yolks, this custard cooks up rich and thick—a wonderful contrast to the glassy brittle layer of caramelized sugar it's topped with. Next is pot de crème. With equal parts cream and milk and lots of egg yolks, it is eggy and soft and smooth, pure custard to be spooned out of a cup and savored unadorned. And finally, crème caramel is the lightest, with whole eggs as well as yolks, milk as well as cream. It's meant to be inverted out of its baking ramekin so its tawny caramel sauce can pool around it; the egg whites make the custard firm enough to stand on its own.

Edited by CanadianBakin', 28 December 2009 - 09:58 AM.

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