Gjelina Butterscotch Pots de Creme

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Should you ever find yourself in Los Angeles with a couple hours on your hands, head straight for Gjelina. This restaurant is popular with celebrities and locals alike, and is nestled on the uber hip Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It is probably my favorite sit-down restaurant in LA and when I lived in the city I tried to find every excuse imaginable to go--birthdays, holidays, treat yoself days... Everything on the menu is superb, but make sure you save room for dessert because one of the most talked-about items on the menu is their butterscotch pots de creme. Smooth, rich, salty, and cool, these chilled little desserts are served in a teacup with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of salt. When the LA Times published the recipe a few years ago, I knew I had to try it (though I'll be honest, when I saw how many egg yolks they use, it took me a while to get the courage to go through with it....that's a lot of egg yolks!). If you are in the mood for an indulgent dessert or something to wow guests with these pots de creme will do the trick. Noah doesn't even like butterscotch and even he was a fan!

Pots de creme (makes 8-10)

  • 9 egg yolks, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

caramel sauce

  • 1/8th cup (30 ml) water
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) heavy whipping cream
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt 

buttermilk creme fraiche 

  • 1 tablespoon buttermilk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream 
  • maldon salt for sprinkling 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Start by separating egg yolks into a separate bowl and gently whisk to combine. Set aside.

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 Heat your butter, salt, and brown sugar in a large pot over medium heat (below).

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Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to darken slightly and takes on a nutty, caramel fragrance, about 5 minutes without stirring (see below). Add seeds from vanilla bean and then turn down heat and whisk in the heavy cream slowly. The sugar will seize and harden when the cream is added. Keep whisking. Cook and continue whisking until all of the sugar is dissolved and the mixture just begins to boil. 

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Remove mixture from heat and very slowly add the hot sugar mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Strain through a fine mesh to remove any cooked egg. Pour mixture into ramekins or jars.  

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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 custard 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. Allow them to chill in a fridge completely before adding creme fraiche and caramel. 

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To make the caramel sauce, combine water and sugar in a pot and stir under medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Once dissolved, turn up head to medium and stop stirring. Keep a close eye on it, and as soon as it turns an amber color remove it from heat and whisk in heavy cream in a slow, steady stream. It will bubble and hiss and be very angry but keep stirring. If you get sugar chunks from the caramel seizing return to the heat and whisk them until they dissolve. After cream has been added add butter, salt, and vanilla. Allow caramel to cool before drizzling. 

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For the creme fraiche, add buttermilk and cream to a medium mixing bowl and whisk until mixture has thickened. To test if it is done, see if you can shape into a quenelle with two spoons. This is a fun trick to make whipping cream and ice cream look fancy on presentation--there is a great video here.

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Add whipped cream quenelle to chilled pots de creme. Add caramel sauce on top, either by drizzling with a spoon or using a piping bag. Sprinkle maldon sea salt on top. Enjoy immediately! If you want to make this recipe a little easier, you could always use store bought caramel sauce and whipped cream. 

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Rose Shortbread Cookies

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So there is a coffee shop in Salt Lake City called The Rose Establishment that is one of my favorite places to grab a cup of coffee. They don't have WiFi so I never studied there much, but anytime I meet a friend for coffee and a bite to eat it is my go-to spot. They have amazing avocado toast (I know....so basic) and quiche but what I love most of all is their rose shortbread cookies. There is nothing crazy about them--the shortbread is crisp and melts in your mouth, the rose is subtle but there, and the icing is vibrant and shiny. Overall they are just a really great cookie and so I wanted to try and recreate them at home. 

Also, on the non-baking front, Noah and I officially submitted and certified our rank list yesterday for Emergency Medicine and Anesthesiology! It was surreal and exciting and nerve-racking. Luckily, we agreed about most things and there were no tears or big fights when it came down to making the list, which I was really thankful for. We both had to make some small sacrifices but at the end of the day we both prioritized wanting to be close to each other. We find out if we matched on March 12, and we find out where we are going March 16!!!!!! (O_o) 

Vanilla Rose Shortbread

  • *Recipe makes 6-7 medium, 3-inch round cookies*
  • 90 g softened butter
  • 45g granulated sugar 
  • 125 g all-purpose flour 
  • 1 g salt 
  • 3 g clear vanilla extract 
  • 3 drops rose water (I had rose water lying around from a cupcake kit a friend got me years ago, but I found it for sale separately on Amazon here)

Vanilla Rose Icing 

  • 100 g powdered sugar
  • 2 g meringue powder 
  • 30 g light corn syrup
  • 10 g water 
  • 3 g clear vanilla extract
  • 3 drops rose water 
  • gel food coloring in pink, red, and violet 
  • dried, edible rose petals (optional) 

Tools

  • 3-inch round cookie cutter
  • piping bag with 1/8th inch round tip (optional)
  • parchment paper 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Cream butter and granulated sugar together in mixing bowl. Add rose water, salt, and vanilla and mix for an additional 30 seconds. Add flour 1 spoonful at a time, mixing well before adding another spoonful. Repeat until all flour has been added. At this point your mixture may look crumbly and dry--that is ok. Shape it into a mound and wrap it in plastic wrap. Chill for 1 hour. 

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While dough is chilling, in a small bowl combine powdered sugar, meringue powder, water, and corn syrup. Whisk with fork or a small whisk. 

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Add clear vanilla extract and rose water and whisk well. At this point the icing will be slightly thick but still runny. When you run your fork through it it should make a brief line before dissipating and becoming smooth again (shown below). If yours doesn't look like this add powdered sugar or water until you get this consistency. 

Coloring this icing was particularly difficult--in fact, I messed up 3 times and had to re-do it each time! But I finally figured it out. The icing of these cookies at Rose Establishment is this beautiful fuschia/magenta color that I have a feeling is made using hibiscus powder. You can buy this online, but I didn't have any. I found that I could make my own by using the colors below: Rose (Wilton brand), Super Red (Americolor), and Violet (Americolor). Essentially, any pink, true red, and violet will work. Start with you pink. You want to use the most of this color, get it until it looks really Barbie pink. Then add a small amount of red--I'm talking the size of a pinhead. Mix that in. Then the violet, start with 1/2 a pinhead. The violet will take it to a more magenta/fuschia shade instead of coral. Also, I learned the hard way to stay away from any yellow or orange. Since this is a purple-blue-based pink you want to stay away from anything that is the opposite of blue/purple. Honestly if you have a background in design or art this will probably be easy for you but it took a couple tries for me! 

The pictures below show the final shade after the violet was added. 

Transfer to a piping bag with a round, 1/8th inch tip. If you don't have a piping bag you can use a ziplock with the tip cut off or just spoon it on with a regular spoon. 

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By this time your shortbread dough will be done chilling. Line cookie sheet with silplat or parchment. Lay a piece of parchment paper on your work space and sprinkle it with a small amount of flour. Place dough on it. Roll out dough until it is between 1/8th inch and 1/4th inch thick. Cut out rounds and transfer to baking sheet. Freeze on baking tray for 10 minutes before placing into preheated oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, remove cookies. They will be barely browned on the edges and they will have spread slightly on the pan. While cookies are still very hot, take your cookie cutter and cut fresh edges on each cookie. Then return to the hot oven for 3 additional minutes. This makes the cookies have a nice, perfect edge to them which I really like. 

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After 3 minutes remove from oven. Take spatula and lightly press down on the tops of each cookie. This flattens it and gives you a great surface for you to ice on. It's small but it makes a difference! 

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Allow cookies to cool on pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely. 

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The dried rose petals really elevate this cookie to the next level IMO but it's definitely not a requirement by any means! You can make your own if you are lucky enough to have a rose garden...or you can buy them here which is what I did. I poured a tablespoon of the petals into a small bowl and picked out the leaves and the stems so there were only petals. I also crushed some of the larger petals up into smaller pieces.  

To decorate, take a cooled cookie and pipe a ring of icing around the edge, leaving about 1/4th inch of space. Loosley pipe in zig-zags into the middle, and move the tip of your piping bag around to fill in the gaps without squeezing more icing out. Top with 3-4 rose petal pieces. 

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I took a bite of one cookie right after icing it, so the icing hadn't set up properly yet, but even so I think the flavor was pretty close to the ones at Rose Establishment! The rose isn't too overwhelming and the cookie is buttery and not too sweet. It would be great with a cup of coffee or tea! 

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Thanks so much for reading! Xx