In this case, the “cocotte” can be a Pyrex custard cup large enough to accommodate two eggs, or any shallow ovenproof ceramic dish. Old-fashioned deep-pottery custard cups are attractive, but only one egg apiece can be cooked in them.
Ingredients for each serving:
Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).
Butter the baking dishes with a little of the butter and put the remainder in the bottoms. Place in the oven to heat. Set the heated dishes on a pie pan or baking sheet so you won’t have to fiddle with a lot of small red-hot dishes.
Break the eggs (if you’re making more than two) into a teacup so that you can quickly slip them into the hot dishes. Slide the eggs into the heated dishes, pour the cream on each one, and sprinkle with grated cheese. Put them back into the oven covered loosely with a sheet of aluminum foil and bake five minutes. They should look a bit underdone because they continue cooking in their hot dishes even on the table. Sprinkle with minced herbs and serve at once or the eggs will surely be overcooked. The cocottes may also be cooked on a top burner in a pan of shallow boiling water, covered loosely.
Variation: Make a quarter-inch bed of a pureed cooked vegetable in the cocotte before breaking in the eggs.