My family is crazy for crème caramel, lol. I remember having to make them at least once every week for our guests. So simple to make, yet so delicious. It’s amazing how the caramel can be so sweet and bitter at the same time. This is caramel in its purest form – no cream added; straight up caramelized sugar.
There seems to be many “interchangeable” names for this dessert, such as flan, caramel custard, custard pudding, etc. Aside from slight differences in the ingredients, the shape and portion sizes are also different. I like to bake mine in small individual ramekins, which are then inverted onto a plate before serving.
In Japan, they are extremely popular and are referred to as pudding. They can be found literally everywhere. I think it may be a little confusing for some as we, living in North America, tend to associate pudding with those chocolate/vanilla flavoured JELLO desserts found in the supermarket aisle. The consistency is quite different – more viscous and rich than a crème caramel. Actually they’re two absolutely different desserts altogether, lol.
I really like this recipe by Ricardo Larrivée which I’ve seen him demonstrate on his show aired on Food Network. Some recipes call for eggs with additional yolks, which result in a richer and firmer custard. I prefer to just use whole eggs (like this recipe) because I like my crème caramel silky smooth and light. The sign of a good crème caramel would be the absense of air pockets. The custard should be completely smooth around the edges, so be careful not to overbeat the eggs with the sugar.
I really can’t emphasize how simple crème caramel is to make, and that’s the beauty of it. Undoubtedly, this goes under my list of “life’s simple pleasures” ;D
Makes 4 portions
3 tablespoons water
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup sugar
1. In a saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil. Using a wet pastry brush, wash down any sugar crystals from the sides of the pan.
2. Cook until the mixture turns golden. Pour into six 125-ml (1/2-cup) ramekins. Let cool.
1. With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F).
2. In a saucepan, warm the milk and vanilla.
3. In a bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until smooth. Slowly whisk in the warm milk. Pour into the ramekins.
4. Prepare a bain-marie: Place a tea towel or Silpat-type baking mat on the bottom of a large baking dish. Place the ramekins in the dish and add enough hot water to reach halfway up the side of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is barely set (trembles like gelatin), about 35 minutes.
5. Remove the ramekins from the bain-marie and let cool for about 30 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
6. Before serving, run the tip of a knife around the inside of each ramekin, unmould onto plates and serve cold.
*adapted from Food Network