Friday, January 12, 2007


Arabic Coffee Pot de Creme

I wake up every Wednesday morning in great anticipation. I bolt out of the bed and head to the newstands specifically for the Los Angeles Times' Food section, a hump day highlight. The cookery book, restaurant, and focus ingredient/personality reviews are well-written and informative, as one would expect for one of the country's leading newspapers. Though other sections of the paper, once read, have been used to clean glass, pad valuables in storage, or go immediately into the recycling bin, my pile of the Food section is verging on the scale of the Coit Tower. Because I am concerned about "death by collapse of newspaper tower", I have decided to go trawl through the editions, make clippings, and actually test the recipes.

At the end of the year, the Los Angeles Times reviews the recipes given throughout the year and compiles a top 10 list. On 2006's top 10 is Ana Sortun's Arabic Coffee Pot de Creme, taken from her cookery book Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean. I was intrigued by the Bedouin tradition of combining cardamom and coffee beans - we drink Guatemalan beans (usually French or Vienna roast) that have been roasted by the folks at Jones Coffee Roasters in Pasadena, where my angelheart Eric stops by before the weekend for the next week's coffee supply. Though cremes de pot are served cold, I thought that the coffee would give a warming feeling, perfect for the onset of Winter.

Arabic Coffee Pot de Creme
(first sighted in the 27 December 2006 edition of the Los Angeles Times; original source: Ana Sortun's Spice: Flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean)

1 cup espresso beans
2 tablespoons whole green cardamom pods
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
6 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons brewed espresso, cooled
1 1/2 tablespoons very finely ground espresso
1 cup heavy whipping cream (1/2 cup suffices, really)

1) Crush the espresso beans and cardamom pods by placing them together in a plastic bag of sorts and bashing them with something heavy, like a rolling pin. Make sure the beans have the consistency of coarsely chopped nuts and the cardamom pods have been split open.
2) In a medium saucepan, bring the cream, milk, and crushed espresso beans and cardamom pods to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let steep for one hour.
3) Heat oven to 300 deg. f. (150 deg. c.).
4) In a small bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together.
5) Strain cream (now infused with the coffee and cardamom) into the yolk mixture with a fine mesh sieve.
6) Stir in the brewed espresso and coffee grounds. This is now the coffee creme.
7) When combined, strain again with a sieve to ensure cooked or lumpy yolk is removed.
8) Place eight 4oz ramekins or espresso cups (or, let's be real, whatever size ramekins or oven-proof cups you have) into a baking dish, and then fill the ramekins with the coffee creme.
9) Pour lukewarm water into the baking dish (NOT the ramekins) until it comes halfway up the ramekins.
10) With a teaspoon, skim off any fine bubbles that appear at the top of the coffee creme to ensure a smooth and creamy pot de creme.
11) Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 50-55 minutes.
12) Carefully pull back foil to test for doneness, which is done by shaking the ramekins to see that they are set around the edges but not quite firm in the center.
13) If done, immediately remove ramekins from the baking dish and set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes before placing them in the refrigerator for several hours before serving.
14) When ready to serve, whip the cream, and spoon and smooth out 1 teaspoon of cream per 4oz ramekin over the coffee creme.

As you can see in this photo, I have carved out the creme so you can get a feeling for its dimensions. Though the finely ground coffee beans are numerous, you do not feel their texture at all. The Arabic Coffee Pot de Creme is smooth, floral and coffee-ish in aroma, making for a complex and delicious experience on the palate.
Posted by Picasa

Labels: ,

Hi Shaun! THanks for sharing this recipe! I might make this for Paul this weekend as he loves coffee (well, he is American!) and this will be a nice treat for him!
What else have you got planned, culinary wise this weekend?
Love, Freya x
p.s. Have you considered entering the photographic food blog competition, DMBLGIT, which is held monthly? I've entered for the first time this month. The link is :
Have a great weekend!
Yum, this sounds so good! I'll definitely try it. :)
Freya, love - I know I've been a terrible friend lately but will send an e-mail upon return from Paris. I hope you enjoy the Arabic Coffee Pot de Creme because it is too sumptuous and complex for words. Culinary wise, nothing planned for the moment as I must brush up on my French (we leave tomorrow). Take care.

Anne - So nice of you to stop by this blog! This recipe sounds like it would be to your taste, based on what I have read about your likes on your blog. Enjoy!
I would DEFINITELY like this too!!! Maybe even this weekend, who knows.
Thanks for the recipe, Shaun!!
Pille - I would love to hear what you think about this recipe and if you think it could use any alterations (I know that we foodies are always tinkering with recipes). I'm going to make it again this weekend for friends who have read this post and specifically requested, nay, demanded, that I make it for them.
Just scrolling thru your archives..... Sounds like you miss LA as much as I do!!
Randi - When I first moved to LA at the end of 2001, I didn't think I would get so attached to it. In fact I resisted it at first, but this is probably due to culture shock. When Eric and I finally settled in Long Beach, we felt like we were "home"; it was in a really cute neighborhood (the historic district of Carroll Park, located from Broadway to 4th Street on the eastern side of Junipero, if you know the area). We decorated our apartment, had friends over, made a point to spend leisure time in the community...It was great. I miss it every day. And then there is the rest of LA that I was only really starting to enjoy in the last two years of my stay there (Santa Monica, downtown LA, etc).
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?