17 October 2009


I found a recipe for lemon cream pots, and I knew I had to try it. I kept trying to imagine how it would taste. I also wanted to find a lemon cream recipe that I could use as a base for other flavors. I’ve been thinking for a while about some flavor combinations I’d like, and here was my chance.

Here’s the basic recipe *:

Here are the flavor combinations I’ve been wanting to try:

Lemon and Basil. This is the current darling flavor mix here with the pastry and chocolate makers here. I wanted to try to replicate it.

Lemon and Lavender. I don’t think I’ve ever had this combination. Maybe there’s a reason? In any case, I wanted to try it.

Lemon and Cardamom. I love cardamom, and I love lemon. Would they go together?

So, to begin, I had to infuse the cream base in the recipe with the non-lemon flavors. For each one, I used 1/2 cup / 125 ml heavy cream.

  • For the cardamom, I added the seeds from 6 cardamom pods, crushed. I heated the cream to the point where it was just starting to steam, and then set it aside to cool. When it was cool, I strained out the cardamom seeds. I had planned to leave them in overnight, but the flavor was already pretty strong, so I strained them out. I chilled the cream overnight.

  • For the lavender, I added 1 tsp dried lavender flowers to the cream, and heated it to the point where it was just starting to steam, then set it aside to cool. When it was cool, I strained the flowers out, again because the flavor was already pretty strong, and chilled it overnight.

  • For the basil, I didn’t want to heat the basil leaves, so I chopped them fine, added them to the cream, and chilled them overnight. I used 10 of the tiny new leaves at the top of the plant. I strained the basil leaves out the next day before heating the cream. The flavor of the basil wasn’t as strong as I thought it should be. If this turns out well, I will use more leaves the next time.

The next day, I took each of these three mixtures as well as some plain cream and did the same thing to each of them:

  • In a small pot, I added 1 Tablespoon of sugar to the cream, then heated it to boiling. I boiled it, stirring, for three minutes. Then I removed it from the heat and added 1.5-2 tablespoons of fresh squeezed lemon juice to it, adjusting the amount according to taste. For the mixture made with the plain cream, I added about a half teaspoon of lemon zest.

  • I then poured the mixture into small pots and let it cool, after which I put it in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

VOILA! Here they are!

Aren’t they pretty?

But now it’s time for the REAL question: how do they taste??

  • Lemon. the lemon cream was bitter. Very bitter. Inedible, in fact. I should have strained the lemon zest out of it--there was too much in there.

  • Lemon and Basil. This was bland. The basil flavor was lost, probably in the cooking. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t special.

  • Lemon and Lavender. This was good. It was a little bitter, but I think it was for two reasons: the lavender was too strong and my lavender is last year’s. With fresh lavender a little less strong it would be better.

  • Lemon and cardamom. I tasted this one with trepidation. You know how you always want people you like to like each other? Sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. In this case, they liked each other. This one was very good. I was very happy with this combination.

Overall, though, these were a disappointment. The flavors I was looking for were underlined by a strong flavor of sweetened condensed milk, which is frankly not something I like very much. If it's diluted with key lime juice and spread over a graham cracker crust, ok. In pots with lemon and lavender, not really. I probably shouldn’t have been surprised by that, given that I cooked sweetened cream to reduce it...

All-in-all, I’d consider this a partial success. The lavender and lemon has potential, the cardamom and lemon is good, and the lemon and basil still needs work. The base lemon cream wasn’t a hit in my opinion. I’ll try these flavor combinations with another base, though.

* Note: I am normally very careful to give credit for recipes, because I hope others will do the same when they use mine. In this case, however, because the end result wasn't a success, I have elected to not share the source of this recipe. The original source liked it very much, and I wouldn't want to rain on anyone's parade.

'Nother Note: I had the darndest time photographing these--all the photos turned out fuzzy. I changed the background, I changed the lighting, I changed the spoon. Even with the lemon zest and lavender seeds are sharp, the little pots seem fuzzy to me. And the spoons! They’re tiny curved mirrors. Can you see me in them? Any advice here would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


My Carolina Kitchen said...

Kate, I love this post. I feel like I'm right there in your kitchen having a conversation with you. I'm sorry these didn't turn out quite like you expected. They are so cute I would keep trying. They would be darling to serve at a dinner party and would get oohs and ahhs. I'm looking forward to your final version.

It's Pink Saturday and I have an award for you. Stop by when you get a chance.

Maggie B said...

Hi Kate,
Just popped over from Sam's place and so enjoyed reading your post today. It's rare to read about someone's cooking experience that didn't turn out the way they expected, this sounds much more like my kitchen!
The pix are great, don't fret about them.
Maggie@ Normandy Life

Barbara said...

First of all, let me say I adore your little pots!
I have done basil panna cotta a number of times- and it turned out perfectly. So I think the lemon might overpower the basil flavor.
You may not have been entirely pleased with your results, but try again because the presentation is too good to resist!

Kate at Serendipity said...

thank you for these lovely comments-i am struggling with a japanese keyboard-i cant hit the period or i get kanji characters-i will respond to you when i get back home at the end of the month.

sam, thanks for the award! i will collect it when i return, ok? i am thrilled!

be back soon, with my own keyboard

Juliana said...

Oh! It is an interesting post...I think I would like the lemon pots since I like lemony stuff...and from what you mention I think the lavender will be my favorite...great presentation :-) Very cute!

The Gypsy Chef said...

Kate, I love the little pots. Kudos for your honesty about the experiments. The photos look terrific to me. Of course I am not wearing my glasses. I think I prefer the world a little fuzzy.

zurin said...

Your pot pics look good. They werent fuzzy to me. I enjoyed this post a lot...I'm a little wary experimenting like that with so many flavours and wondering if anyone will eat up my experiments up so I dont come up with very original recipes, SO thank you for experimenting !

I have problems with my photography too and there are times when Ive cooked something good but never post it simply bcos it just didnt look good in the picture.I change the background, I change the spoon, the plate etc..I carry my food from one end of the house to short its a big pain sometimes ...tq for makes me feel better :))

The Gypsy Chef said...

I just re-read this post and I still enjoyed it. I must say, the photos are lovely. So many times I've made things that just didn't turn out the way I expected. Glad to know I'm not alone.