Meyer Lemon Pot de Crème

So I figured as long as we're on the citrus train, why stop at cake? Why not share a recipe with you that not only celebrates the totally fabulous Meyer lemon, but pairs it with cream, an ingredient that just makes the whole thing so right that you may just shed a tear? I give you Meyer Lemon Pot de Crème. And a dollop of fresh raspberry sauce to boot.

Now, guys, I make a lot of desserts. Some might say an alarming amount, but that is neither here nor there. It's quite a feat for something to be declared a real winner. For my main taste tester (that would be my darling husband) to have more than just a few cookies from a batch or one slice of a cake is a Big Deal these days. The results of my baking abilities were much more exciting when they were newly revealed in the beginning of our marriage. But before this unintentionally goes into a downward spiral of a metaphor gone horribly wrong, let me get to my point--boyfriend had two helpings of this pot de crème the day it was made. It was that good.

So Meyer lemons are basically the definition of ubiquitous these days, aren't they? But man, they totally live up to their reputation. With zest so fragrant and juice so sweet (for lemon juice, anyway), they are worth stealing if you happen to have a neighbor with a Meyer lemon tree. In this case, though, I did not actually steal these particular lemons.

I bought them from this charming old lady parked out in front of our corner market. She'd set up a little stand with mounds of bright Meyer lemons and enormous grapefruits and a handwritten cardboard sign that was curling at the edges and advertising a price so low it was practically criminal. And when we got to talking about how her son drives the fruit all the way from Stockton into the city, and how they don't really make a profit anyway, but that day he'd gotten a speeding ticket on the way down and so now they were really in the hole, well, guess who ended up guilt-purchasing an armload of Meyer lemons? Anyway.

Since I've already told you about my favorite lemon bars, and it hasn't exactly been sorbet or lemon meringue pie weather around here, I went for a pot de crème recipe I'd bookmarked in recent months that paired the vibrant fruit with a swirl of cream and the Rhoda to its Mary--a perfectly simple, fresh raspberry sauce.

All the flavors here--the zing of lemon, the counterpoint of lush cream and the sweet, lusty raspberries offering a perfect finish--work in a way that reminds you that some things were just meant to be together. Sort of like the way all those Meyer lemons found me that day.

And you know what they say--when life guilt-trips you into buying an insane quantity of lemons, make pot de crème.

Meyer Lemon Pot de Crème with Raspberry Sauce
Adapted from Food in the City

Can you use regular lemons? Yes, yes you can. But seek out organic ones so you don't end up zesting a bunch of pesticides into the dish. Also, sometimes I bring the flavor of regular lemon juice a little closer to that of a Meyer lemon by holding back a few tablespoons of lemon juice and replacing them with orange juice. There's also no reason not to use frozen raspberries for the sauce if you'd prefer.

Serves 4

For the crème:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons Meyer lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed and strained Meyer lemon juice

For the raspberry sauce:

1/3 cup raspberries, fresh or frozen (thawed and drained)
2 teaspoons superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon Meyer lemon juice

In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream with the lemon zest just until small bubbles appear around the edge--do not boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let steep for 20 minutes.

Position a rack to the center of the oven and preheat it to 325 degrees. Place four 6-ounce custard cups, ramekins or coffee cups in a small roasting pan.

Return the pan of cream to the stove, and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolk and superfine sugar and pour into the simmering cream, whisking constantly until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the lemon juice. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the custard through a sieve and into a large measuring cup for easy pouring. Bring a large kettle or pot of water to boiling.

Divide the custard evenly among the four custard cups. Open the oven door, pull out the oven rack, and place the roasting pan on the rack. Slowly pour boiling water into the roasting pan until it reaches about halfway up the sides of the custard cups. Carefully slide the rack back into the oven, being careful not to splash water into the cups. Bake until just set, about 35-40 minutes.

Remove the cups from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2-24 hours before serving.

To make the sauce, puree together the raspberries, sugar and lemon juice. Serve each pot de crème with a dollop of the sauce, plus extra on the side.

CustardsShauna Sever