Pixie Tangerine and Fennel Pots de Creme

A few days ago, as I was being interviewed by Raleigh’s News Observer, I began thinking about inspiration. “What inspires you to cook?” is a question I get asked a lot. Right at that moment, I thought of these pixie tangerines we had just brought home days earlier. Anything this sweet, fragrant and beautiful to look at is always one of my biggest inspirations. I don’t always know what I will be making with them and in my mind, that is part of the fun.

During my years in professional kitchens, menus were always strongly driven by seasons. Perhaps because I grew up close to nature and because we only ate what was in season, I cannot think of produce or cooking in any other way.

Every Sunday, my dad drove us to his parents farm in Zeberio. They grew most everything they ate and always had crates full of extras for us to take home. I remember the vivid smell of leeks that permeated my dad’s car and lingered for days. Summer was vibrant with strawberries, summer squash, heirloom tomatoes, peas, figs… Winter was hearty with leeks, cabbage, red beans, potatoes… and a small orange tree that yielded fruit late into Spring. That’s where my inspiration comes from.

“I feel like flan”, I told my mom. Farmer Sal’s eggs with their deep orange yolks were calling my name. We steeped cream and milk with the pixie tangerine zest, a bit of lemon zest, cinnamon and fennel seeds for this little pots de creme. Not quite flan, but we always seem to call any custard flan, whether it has caramel or not.

We spent the whole afternoon at home playing with M., baking, reading and eating this little custard jars.

I had bookmarked Tara’s tangerine and almond cake recipe a few weeks before and this was the perfect time to make it. A flourless, super moist cake that I adapted to incorporate pistachios and a gluten-free crumb topping. Barely had any time to photograph them as they were our snack for the afternoon we spent strawberry picking.

And then… there’s our little “txinbito”, like we call her. “Jateko modukoa ama”.

Pixie Tangerine and Fennel Pots de Creme

makes about 10 small ramekins

500 ml milk
500 ml heavy cream
Zest of 6 pixie tangerines or 3 regular ones
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
175 grams sugar

Heat the milk, heavy cream, zest, cinnamon and fennel seeds. Steep for about 10 minutes.

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl. Temper in the hot liquid. Strain through a fine sieve.

Pour the custard into ramekins. Place ramekins on a baking tray. Bring the tray to a preheated 300F oven. Pour hot water in the baking tray about 1″ high. Bake the pots de creme until set. Time will vary depending on the size of the ramekin.

Let them cool and refrigerate them for up to 3 days. We seem to like them best at room temperature but that might be just us.

you may also like…

83 Responses to “Pixie Tangerine and Fennel Pots de Creme”

  1. Ayşe says:

    your blog and pictures brighten my days as a miserable graduate student! :)

  2. I love how you photographed these – I’ve always thought orange looks wonderful against light blue!

    I picked up some Pixie tangerines the other day as well. Unfortunately, they were a bit bland (that’s what you get living in New England!).

    I’ll definitely be making the fennel pot de creme, though – looks wonderful!

  3. The French says:

    I just ‘came to’ and realized I was not on a farm in Zeberio. Big bummer. I can almost taste the pixie tangerines…guess that will have to do for now. Love this blog. Thanks:)

  4. elanorr says:

    ¿Se puede hacer yogur de vainilla en casa? No hay ninguno en Turquia.
    Si tu sabes,puedes dar recetas en tu blog o aqui?:)

  5. I am always amazed at how simply beautiful colored eggs are. That bluish green color is just gorgeous.

  6. Edda says:

    I like these perfumes, the way you offer it, the light..But above all I love the photo of your daughter with the grandma, it’s so sweet, symbolic :-)

  7. Stephanie says:

    Both of these recipes appear to be right up my alley Aran!

    p.s. would little clementines offer similar flavor then? They are pretty much the same type of fruit, no?

  8. m says:

    So beautiful! I’ve been craving custard lately too, but I’ve never tried fennel before! But it all looks wonderful. :]

  9. Those pots de crème must have a delicate taste! What an unusual combination!

    Your daughter is so cute…



  10. Anonymous says:

    Cada una de tus entradas es siempre muy especial. El otro dia volvi hacer arroz con leche (pasion la mia con este dulce) y la foto de esa epoca en comparacion con las de ahora es increible,j,j…has mejorado muchisimo!! Mire esta preciosa…que cosa mas ricaaaaaaa. beso Carmen ZH

  11. keiko says:

    Aran, this is lovely! The flavour combination is intriguing – I don’t think I’ve ever used fennel seeds in desserts, but it must work really well with citrus, can’t wait to try it!

    And your little txinbito is truly adorable.


  12. Allison says:

    I have been reading your blog for a while now, but have yet to leave a comment. I just have to tell you that your photos are extraordinary. You are creating some amazing works of art.

  13. Everytime I love to visit your blog! Your recipes and photos are georgeous! Hugs Yvonne

  14. GASP! Adorable baby fix. Thank you!

    Katy Noelle

  15. prerna says:

    Gosh! what a cute baby.. I also have a 7 month old so u got me with that picture :-)
    I just wanna tell you one thing that I like most about your recipes is that they are so simple and straight forward and yet look so gourmet. I looooove recipes like that and love cooking like that.
    This one was another good one and again pretty pictures!

  16. Kaitlin says:

    I wish I had grown up as you had and that I’d learned to cook/bake by the seasons! I am trying to teach myself.

    These photos are as gorgeous as ever. I love blue and orange together :D

  17. Lovely food, lovely photos, lovely baby. How come I’ve never heard of pixie tangerines? Great post, thanks very much.

  18. Ainhoa says:

    Benetan jateko modukoa da zure neskatxua. Segi horrela, ikusten da asko disfrutatzen dozula sukaldean.

  19. Polka says:

    Just don’t know what to say…
    It looks so gorgeous!
    I bet it’s just delicious!

    Cheers for that recipe.

  20. cindy* says:

    gorgeous as always aran! so glad you are getting to have some wonderful family time…priceless!

  21. so cute! Where did you cute those adorable blue ramekins? and the white and green ones? They are adorable!

  22. Pera Chipita- the blue ramekins are from ASA hot and fresh and the white and green is actually a ceramic measuring cup from anthropologie.

    Thank you everyone!

  23. tara says:

    the fennel seeds sound like such a lovely addition to the tangerines. so smart.

    seeing those little cake of yours absolutely made my day, then the glimpse of M put it over the top. she’s darling.

  24. I had never heard of a Pixie Tangerine – they are so cute & the pots de Creme look amazing! Your little one is just beautiful too:) How fun to spend an afternoon Strawberry picking **sigh** Thanks for sharing:)

  25. Paige says:

    I’m so intrigued by the use of the fennel spice in the custards. I love fennel in savory foods and frequently pair it with fruit (citrus, apple…). I don’t know why I’ve never considered including it in a dessert…I will have to try these custards.

    Thank you!

  26. Anna says:

    Forget the dessert, I’m craving “Txinbito” how adorable is that? I want one just like that, can somebody send me one by mail? LOL.

  27. Alicia says:

    Another burst of brilliance to try & here in AZ we have pixies galore…all from a co workers trees!!
    Still the sweetest was your sweetie!! Chubby baby arms & little toes…divine!!!

  28. Recipeman says:

    looks so tasty and the photos are amazing

  29. you inspire me!!!
    your little baby it’s so cute!

  30. Robyn says:

    What an extraordinary combination…

  31. ibb says:

    Egia esan jateko modukoa dau..
    Eta sukaldean sartzeko orduan…lehenik eta behin, norentzat prestatzen dudan bazkaria…hor hartzen diat denbora, nor datorren, erosketak egitera joan, pentsatzu…eta sukaldean ardo on batekin sartu…horrek inspiratzen nau..jjaja…lagun arteak eta ardoak.
    Niretzako…orduan, ez diat asko pentsatzen…umoreak hartzen du orduan parte.

  32. Anything custard gets my attention – but this one really did. Fennel? Wow, what an interesting concept. Will have to give this one a try, most definitely!

  33. These are so beautiful, Aran – but no surprise here, right? Everything you make is gorgeous!
    Love the flavors you combined – can’t wait to try them myself!

  34. collin says:

    Awesome!!! The thing I liked most in this post is the lovely pics. Between thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Take the Cake Personality Test and find out which cake are you like. I have taken the test and enjoyed a lot. Hope u too will enjoy it. Have Fun!!

  35. Dajda says:

    I agree about the seasonal food – everything tastes best at the right time of the year, just compare the tomatoes you can buy in the winter and in the summer.

    Your baby girl looks lovely!

  36. Danielle says:

    Aran, your props are too beautiful, I want them all!! I’ve been thinking about flan lately too, it’s such an easy, versatile dessert.

  37. these photos are such a pick-me-up! I love the orange and aqua colors…and delicious looking too!

  38. pity says:

    esas mini tangerines las tengo en la nevera mes como de tres en tres, me encanta cuando leo tus “innovaciones gastronomicas”, como el uso del fennel seed, me parece brillante, y tu nenita preciosa! besitos desde londres

  39. Sue Sparks says:

    So freash and gorgeous! I feel like I could just grab it through the computer screen! Darling little baby:)

  40. Rowaida says:

    So Beauitful and fresh post! your baby is so adorable and cute, God bless her.

  41. Jolette says:

    Aaw, just look at those little tiny feet! :-) The recipe looks marvellous – such unique flavours – and the photographs are beautifully styled too. What a cute post!

  42. Mi más sincera enhorabuena, sigo tu blog pero nunca he comentado hasta ahora y te tengo que felicitar una y mil veces, admiro realmente lo que compartes con nosotros porque me encantaría hacer lo mismo pronto. Me encanta cocinar, la fotografía y soy celiaca así que me gustaría poder hacer un blog que anime a todos los que tenemos esta intolerancia a cocinar porque se pueden hacer muchas cosas ricas. Un beso desde España

  43. mas alla de 365 sonrisas- pues acabo de entererme que si, que oficialmente tengo una intolerancia al gluten. no soy celiaca pero si tengo otros problemas immunologicos. muchas gracias por comentar!

    thank you!

  44. I agree wholeheartedly at how your pictures brighten the day; my first though. Damn. Even in these awesome spring times we need it.

    would be cool if anyone checked out my blog on http://www.howtobakesalmon.blogspot.com

  45. Beautiful pots de creme. The fennel is so surprising in this dessert.


  46. veron says:

    Your pots de creme looks divine, but your little one is angelic!

  47. Lulu says:

    I like visiting your site! Not only for the good recipes but also for the pictures, styling and whole atmosphere here:)

  48. pues sigue haciendo cosas tan bonitas y sabrosas porque nos alegras el día y probaré algunas recetas a las que ya les he echado el ojo. También se puede comer rico sin gluten!!!

  49. Inés says:

    Aran, jateko modukoa dago Mirentxu! gainera peligorria dela ematen du, ilea mandarina kolorea ere…Ai ama halako blogean hainbat gauza eder jateko eta erdian bera: osagai preziatuena bizitza zoriontsu baten errezetarako!. Muxu bat!

  50. Jamie says:

    Your daughter is fabulous! Gorgeous! Who has eyes for your luscious desserts when you stun us with that photo? Ha I love it! But if I must, the desserts sound and look lovely and tempting. Adorable mini tangerines – how I miss Florida citrus! I love flan but those cakes are calling me…

  51. Eva says:

    Aran! Pero que preciosa que esta tu hijita!
    El blog me encanta y tu entrevista me parecio genial. Me alegro muchisimo por ti!
    Muchisimos besos!!!
    PD: Ya tengo tres gallinas (que tenemos desde que eran pollitos)Que pena que no vivamos mas cerca por que te daria huevos encantada.

  52. Eva- jo que si, como me encantaria que viviesemos cerca. con tres gallinas… te vas a hacer una experta. Un millon de besos!

    Thank you!

  53. lovely post…beautiful pictures and it is really nice to ned up with that beautiful baby girl!

  54. I love your blog!! Those pictures are incredible and I strive to create posts as beautiful as yours.

    I’d love if you would check out my new site!


  55. J Wagner says:

    Everything looks soo good as usual! Your baby is getting so big and so yummy cute!

  56. Y says:

    How cute are those tangerines! Almost as cute as the little one :)

  57. cribs says:

    How did you do that? they look so beautiful! They are!

  58. Deeba PAB says:

    Your little “txinbito” is preciously C U T E, and as beautiful as your post. I love these pixie tangerines and have a little plant in my yard, but the fruit my plant bears is sour beyond belief! I love that you peeled them so painstakingly. Beautiful flans/custards and little cakes too. You inspire me … always!

  59. Your baby is so beautiful. And of course, your photos are spectacular. I am always blown away by your photos, I only wish I was that great at photography.

  60. Zerogluten says:

    Todo fantástico como siempre, pero lo que más me gusta la niña, que esa sí que está para comérsela!
    Besitos sin gluten.

  61. Thank you for your sweet words about M. She really is a good baby. Her big brother used to love to be in photos but somehow that has changed and so none of him recently.

    I hope you try the recipe. Thank you!

  62. tefi says:

    Every couple of days I check to see if you posted anything new. I know I will always leave the computer with a smile, a couple of new ideas for my kitchen and my nose imagining the scent of baked desserts. I am 21 studying graphic design and live in Argentina. I came to the city three years ago by myself and although I really miss my mom, i find this blog so comforting, it’s like it brings me back to my parent’s house… So thank you very much!

  63. Anonymous says:

    your pictures are beautiful!

  64. Tefi- That makes me very happy. I know well what it feels like to be away from home. Si mis fotos y palabras te animan un poco, entonces todo el esfuerzo y tiempo que dedico para este blog ha merecido la pena. Un abrazo- Aran

  65. Hermosa receta y hermosas fotos.

  66. Paige says:

    Thanks for introducing me to Pixie tangerines. I had not heard of them and the day after I read your post I saw them at my grocery store. I bought some because of your post. They are great! Juicy and sweet…and I thought citrus season was over….

  67. Wow wow wow……..those photos are amazing…
    kid with food always the perfect outfit.

  68. Que mona está Miren
    Y que gordi

    Vaya lo del gluten

    un beso

  69. Anonymous says:

    Can’t believe you didn’t win saveur’s food blog awards :-(

  70. Anonymous- thanks for your support :) Honestly, I was happy just to be nominated so that was a gift in itself. but thank you!

    Thanks all!

  71. Pille says:

    Your “txinbito” is utterly adorable!!! ;)

  72. Anonymous says:

    I know, it’s amazing you didn’t win the food blog contest, with your repetitive use of the weathered boards, cracked egg shells and Martha Stewart’s robin’s egg blue. I can’t believe it myself. Sick your posse of middle-aged Moms on them Aran! The voters clearly don’t recognize you for the genius that you insist you are. I love how you edit all the non-ass kissing comments out of your blog now. It shows just how insecure you are.

  73. Anonymous- first of all, I had the feeling it was your sarcastic humor that left that comment earlier. What I don’t understand is why you keep coming back here if you find it so uninspiring, boring and full of middle aged women. When I don’t like something, I just don’t have the time to go back and back to look at it. Not sure what your intentions are. People must like what they see otherwise they wouldn’t return. Lastly, I am not one bit insecure so please stop making accusations. That’s all.

  74. Jill says:

    Wow, you have big balls to go to someone’s blog and post shitty comments and leave your name out. Let me guess, you lost a contest to Aran in the past? You obviously have a lot of time and anger on your hands. Maybe you should work on your own skills and not waste time criticizing someone else’s. But what do I know? I’m just a middle-aged woman.

  75. The only insecure person here is the one that doesn’t have the guts to sign their real name when they leave a comment. Ms. Anonymous “negative” comments signed anonymous come from cowards.

  76. Aran, can I eat *her* with a spoon? She’s just too adorable! And I love the use of fennel here – I don’t use that flavor enough.

  77. Your baby looks so cute and delicately fairy like! I love the top of babies’ heads so much:).

    All the pictures are so beautiful and it looks like Spring in your blog!

  78. Kara says:

    I just pulled these out of the oven. I didn’t have any pixie tangerines, but I did have some delicious Cara Cara oranges on hand. I love the flavors in this dish. I also made some orange cardamom shortbread cookies to go with the pots de creme, but I am afraid I may have introduced one too many flavors. We’ll see. This is tomorrow night’s dessert after a spicy curry dinner.

    I love your blog and have been enjoying cooking my way through it!

  79. I Love your recipes! They are so simple and fresh! Where did you find such beautiful ramekins?



  80. I’m not a custard girl, but your’s looks delicious. Your baby is gorgeous.

  81. We love this recipe and we are adding it to our Fennel Friday Conga Line Inspiration List at FennelFriday.com

  82. […] Adapted from: http://www.cannellevanille.com/gluten-free/pixie-tangerine-and-fennel-pots-de-creme/ […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.