I don't know if there's a breakfast that is lower effort yet higher reward than eggs en cocotte. It seems impossible how easy it is to throw together, for how delicious, decadent, and downright elegant it is. And the moment I swapped out the heavy cream in my go-to version for crème fraîche, I loved it even more--the crème fraîche adds an extra tangy, nutty je ne sais quoi (this is a French dish, after all) to the whole thing that I can't get enough of. A smattering of Parmesan complements the whole thing nicely, with a little tomato for freshness and goat cheese for liveliness. Sometimes I decide to go all out and add just a bit of mozzarella or gruyere, too. I can't get enough of this. —Cynthia Chen McTernan
Lightly grease two 4-ounce porcelain ramekins with olive oil. Divide the goat cheese and tomatoes between the two ramekins. Gently crack an egg over the mixture in each ramekin, taking care not to break the yolks. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the eggs. Finally, dollop a tablespoon of crème fraîche over each, and finish with a generous layer of Parmesan, plus mozzarella, or gruyere, if you really want to go all out.
If you like, prepare a bain marie to bake the cocottes in a gentle and even heat. Place them in a baking dish or cake pan, then fill the pan with about 1 inch of hot water. Otherwise, simply place them on a baking sheet. Either way, bake for about 10 to 20 minutes until your desired level of doneness. At 10 minutes, the egg whites will be just set. At 15 minutes, the yolks will still be soft. At 20, the whole egg should be set. If you're one who loves a runny egg, keep a close eye on your eggs before the 10 minutes are up.
Let cool briefly, then serve with a side of toast or salad.