Holiday Recipes: Dessert to Impress

Love, Lydia Bakery shares her pot de creme recipe

Chef Lydia0002

The holidays definitely look and feel a little different this year. But, for many home chefs, small gatherings instead of huge parties are a chance to try out new recipes. We’ve asked three food experts in town for their own holiday suggestions and were delighted with the flavors and ingredients they came back with. The best piece of advice, no matter which one you try first? Have fun with it!

LYDIA CLOPTON, owner of the popular Love, Lydia Bakery, usually heads down to Florida to visit family for the holidays but is keeping it local and low key this year. Her pots de creme are modeled after one of her favorite holiday pies: a buttermilk custard pie with cranberry curd.

“The cranberry is super tart and the vanilla custard is sweet, so it’s well balanced. In the shortbread cookies, I used local ingredients from Shelton Farm because supporting local business is so important now,” Clopton says. She picked the pot de creme adaptation because it’s an easy dessert to share with neighbors. “Making pot de cremes is super fun because you can put it in anything you want – a coffee mug, a teacup, any sort of glass or ceramic thing that can bake. It’ll call for certain types of dairy, but it’s super adaptable. You can really just use what you’ve got on hand, so you can spend more time with your family and less time stressing over ingredients.”

These recipes can be made up to a week ahead of time. Clopton suggests making them at least a day ahead.

Chef Lydia0028Dessert to Impress

Pot De Crème with Cranberry Curd
with whipped crème fraiche and candied citron shortbread cookies

Serves 6

Cranberry Curd
(Any tart curd can be substituted for this)


  • 6 ounces (about 1½ cups) fresh or frozen cranberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 ²/₃ ounces (¼ cup, plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) lemon or orange juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 ounces (half a stick) of butter, cut into several pieces at room temperature


  1. Place cranberries and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until cranberries soften and start to burst open, about 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.
  2. Add the sugar, eggs, egg yolks, juice, and salt to the bowl with the cranberries and whisk until uniform.
  3. Place the bowl over a simmering (not boiling) pot of water (Note: The water should not touch the bowl.) Stir continuously, making sure to scrape the edges of the bowl, until it thickens slightly.
  4. Strain the curd through a mesh strainer again into a clean bowl. Add the butter all at once and whisk until completely melted.
  5. Chill, covered until needed or spoon about an ounce into the bottom of 4-6 ounce glass or ceramic cup/dish.

Vanilla Pots De Crème


  • 2¼ cups half and half (or dairy-free creamer)
  • 1½ teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3½ ounces (½ cup) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 300 °F.
  2. Put six, 4-6 ounce ramekins or glass/ceramic cups in a deep pan, add 1 ounce cranberry curd and set aside.
  3. Heat dairy and vanilla in a small saucepan just until it simmers. Stir occasionally.
  4. While it heats, whisk the sugar, yolks, and salt in a medium bowl.
  5. Once the milk is steaming, slowly pour into yolks while whisking the whole time.
  6. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a pourable container like a pitcher.
  7. Very, very slowly pour 2-3 ounces into cups trying not to disturb the curd.
  8. Pour hot water into the pan until it comes about halfway up the sides of the cups.
  9. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 25-35 minutes until they are uniformly jiggly.
  10. Once the cups have cooled enough to handle, transfer into fridge until ready to serve (several hours or overnight).

Crème Fraiche Whipped Cream
(Should be made the day of)


  • ½ cup crème fraiche (or sour cream)
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2-3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar


  1. Whip in electric mixer on medium-high until it holds soft peaks.
  2. Store in the refrigerator until needed.

Candied Citron Shortbread with Lemon Verbena

“I bought a citron tree – with fruit! – and lemon verbena plant from Shelton Herb Farm,” Clopton says. “Candied citron is a common ingredient in fruitcake and can be purchased, but it is amazing fresh! I recommend using David Lebovitz’s recipe for candying.”


  • 8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted, room temperature butter
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1¹/₈ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 8½ ounces (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped candied citron
  • Lemon verbena leaves


  1. Cream butter and salt in a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium speed for 1-2 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Turn the speed down to low and add confectioners’ sugar.
  2. Beat until light and fluffy for about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Add the flour and beat until just incorporated. Add candied citron and mix just until combined.
  4. Preheat oven to 335 °F.
  5. Press dough into a 9×9 square baking dish. Top with individual leaves of lemon verbena. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  6. Bake until edges start turning light brown, about 30 minutes. Cut into desired sizes while still warm but not hot.

Holiday Recipes:

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Categories: Taste