This is the single, most talked about item we sell at Gjelina. Since we work tremendously hard on our entire menu, we would love to see some of this attention go to our more recent creations. But our butterscotch pots de crème inspire childlike wonder, giving us reason enough to continue serving them after all these years. The dramatic contrasts in flavor and texture are deeply satisfying—smoky caramel–flavored custard, combined with whipped crème fraîche, thick caramel sauce, and flaky sea salt. —Travis Lett
Preheat the oven to 300°F [150°C]. Arrange eight ramekins or custard pots with a ¾-cup [180-ml] capacity in a large, shallow baking pan. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large liquid measuring cup or pitcher. Place the egg yolks in a large bowl and set aside.
In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, cook the brown sugar and butter, without stir¬ring, until the sugar turns a deep amber color and develops a nutty smell, 10 to 15 minutes. Pour the heavy cream into the mixture gradually (and carefully, to avoid hot spatters), whisking constantly. Remove from the heat. Add the kosher salt, and scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the mixture. Stir to combine.
Slowly pour the hot butterscotch mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Strain the custard through the sieve into the measuring cup. Pour into the ramekins, dividing the custard evenly. Pour hot water into the baking pan until it reaches halfway up the outside of the ramekins, and cover the pan with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Rotate the pan and continue to bake for 15 minutes more, or just until the cus¬tard has set and doesn’t jiggle with you shake the pan. Remove the pan from the oven, uncover, and, using tongs, carefully lift the custards from the water bath and set on a cooling rack. (The custards can be made up to 1 week in advance and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.)
To make the caramel sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the granulated sugar, water, and kosher salt and cook, without stirring, until the mixture turns red-brown in color, about 5 minutes. Gradually add the heavy cream, whisking constantly until the sauce is smooth. Set aside until ready to use.
For the Buttermilk Crème Fraîche:
In a 1-qt [1-L] jar, combine the cream and buttermilk. Partially cover and let stand in a warm spot (about 78°F [28°C]) until the cream tastes slightly sour and has thickened to a puddinglike consistency, 24 hours to 3 days.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.