5 Ingredients or Fewer

Madeleine Kamman’s Butterscotch Creams

June 13, 2018
8 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

There is no reason that any of us should be afraid to make custard. We don’t need to know how to temper eggs or what bain marie means. We really only need to be able to identify a jiggle. Adapted from The Making of a Cook (Atheneum, 1971). To read the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Madeleine Kamman’s Butterscotch Creams
  • 1/2 cup (100g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (475ml) light or heavy cream (heavy cream recommended if not using a water bath)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Roughly chopped toasted almonds, for sprinkling
  1. Heat the oven to 300° F. In a medium pot, combine the brown sugar and butter and melt over medium heat to make butterscotch, stirring until melted and smooth (alternatively, this can be done in the microwave, in a medium microwave-safe bowl).
  2. In a small pot, scald the cream just until bubbles start to appear at the sides, then gradually whisk the cream into the butterscotch. Add the salt.
  3. Choose a large bowl for whisking your hot butterscotch cream into your egg yolks. If it seems like the bowl will wobble as you whisk, you can steady it by rolling up a damp kitchen towel into a coil to make a nest for your bowl. Add the egg yolks to the bowl. Gradually whisk the hot butterscotch cream into the egg yolks, then add the vanilla.
  4. Set six 3-ounce custard cups or ramekins on a rack, a tea towel, or a silicone baking mat in a large baking pan, evenly spacing the cups.
  5. Pour the custard through a strainer evenly into the cups. Pull the middle oven rack partway out of the oven for easier access, carefully set the baking pan full of custard cups on it, then carefully pour or ladle very hot water into the baking pan around the custard cups, until the water is about halfway up the sides of the cups. Carefully push the oven rack back in and close the oven.
  6. Bake until the edges of the custards are set and firm, but the center of the surface still ripples when gently jiggled, about 25 minutes—the custards will keep firming up as they cool. Remove the custards from the water bath and let them cool on a rack until you're either ready to serve, or to cover and chill them. Serve warm or cold, sprinkled with the toasted almonds.
  7. Notes: If you don't have custard cups, you can instead make one big pan of custard in an 8-inch square cake pan or another oven-safe vessel. Kamman's original 1971 recipe did not call for a water bath, but in the revamped 1997 book she used them for all her custards for the most gentle, even cooking. If you don't have the makings of a water bath, you can skip it—the custards will bake a bit quicker and you'll want to be extra careful not to overbake.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Franca
  • soupcon
  • Cook
  • Kristen Miglore
    Kristen Miglore
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

22 Reviews

Franca February 8, 2022
Mine took much longer to bake, almost double the time. That being said, this dessert is orgasmic!!! I will be making a double batch next time. My son inhaled his, I savoured mine, and had to restrain myself from eating the rest. It made for a delectible breakfast the next morning.
Sue B. February 7, 2019
I just finished my little bowl of butterscotch creaminess! That is one of the best desserts. So easy, I guess I found a new afternoon treat. You said it was rich , but it is so good I really want another one😊
Bree H. June 20, 2018
Super easy recipe to follow, love that it essentially uses all pantry items! Not to many specialty items from the store. Thanks for sharing. PS> glad I read through some of the tips & tricks of this recipe :) Also, I just might have to turn this into ice cream go around.
soupcon June 14, 2018
I too am a big fan of seriouseats.com. See their video on egg tempering here: https://www.seriouseats.com/2018/03/tempering-eggs-why-when-and-how-to-do-it.html Seriously informative. You really only need a stick blender to temper or use a blender. Much easier than whisking your arm off.
Jacqui June 14, 2018
Can you recommend sous vide temp and time. It’s too hot to use the oven here! Thanks.
Kristen M. June 14, 2018
Hi again Jacqui, I'm sorry to say that I don't have much experience with sous vide (I'm very intrigued, but I tend to focus on techniques that work for a pretty basic set of kitchen equipment). I'm a big fan of Stella Parks, and I trust her thoughts on which desserts will work well with sous vide: https://www.seriouseats.com/2017/01/bravetarts-ultimate-guide-to-sous-vide-dessert.html
Charlotte June 13, 2018
Once the custards come out of the oven do you leave them cooling in the water bath or remove them to cool on a rack?
Kristen M. June 13, 2018
Good question—they shouldn't be left in the water bath or they'll continue cooking even more. I just updated the recipe. Thanks!
brontehealy June 13, 2018
Is the 3-oz custard cup correct? My shotglass measure is two ounces. That seems like barely a few spoonfuls..?
Kristen M. June 13, 2018
Yes, it is correct! It's rich. You can use bigger cups, but the timing and number of servings will vary.
Jacqui June 14, 2018
Six 3 oz cups equal 18 oz. there’s more than 18 oz of fluid in the recipe.
Kristen M. June 14, 2018
Hi Jacqui—its actually quite close. In our experience, there's a tiny bit of custard left over, but not enough to fill a 7th cup, though you could divvy the custard more evenly between 7 cups (or another baking vessel) if you don't want to waste a drop!
Cook June 13, 2018
Is there a way to do this on top of the stove? I've never been able to do baked custards ...ever. They've always turned into scrambled eggs. :(
Kristen M. June 13, 2018
Don't be afraid! Baking should actually be easier and less persnickety than making this recipe on the stovetop. Just be sure to pull the custard out before it looks done, when the center is still rippling, since it continues to bake out of the oven.
Cook June 13, 2018
Thanks Kristen! One question - you say "rippling"... does that mean liquid? Or more like semi-set jello?
Kristen M. June 13, 2018
More like semi-set Jello—the surface itself shouldn't be sloshy or liquidy-looking, but beneath the surface it should look like it's still rippling a decent amount. Does that make sense?
Cook June 13, 2018
It DOES... I will give it a shot and let you know!! THANK You!!!
Kristen M. June 14, 2018
Hooray, good luck!
Laura P. June 13, 2018
You can use any kind of bowl - Pyrex, metal, ceramic. And the “nest” just means a damp towel coiled into a loop and placed on the counter. You center the bowl in that so it doesn’t slide around: you’re going to be pouring with one hand and whisking with the other, so you won’t be able to hold the bowl in place. Or come up with your own hack to hold it steady. A silicone mat would probably work, for instance.
Kristen M. June 13, 2018
Thanks so much, Laura—great description. I've updated the recipe to hopefully be a bit more clear.
Anne T. June 13, 2018
Questions: on step 3 can one use a ceramic or metal bowl? And set it in a nesting towel. Does that mean wrap a damp, cold towel around it
Kristen M. June 13, 2018
Hi Anne, see Laura Perry's helpful answer above, and I've also clarified in the recipe.