There is nothing quite as comforting a dessert as a classic Crème Caramel. Its wholesome taste is one of the sweetest childhood memory for many. The good news is that it is really easy to make!
For this recipe you will need 6 ramekins. Each ramekin should hold about 6 oz. or ¾ cup of liquid. If your ramekins are smaller, you may need more ramekins.
You will also to prepare a bain-marie. Now just because it sounds French, it does not mean the process is complicated! You just need a few things:
- Start with a roaster or baking dish with a wire rack that can hold all the ramekins. It should also be deep enough so that the top of the baking dish is higher than the ramekins.
Note: if you do not have a wire rack that will fit in the bottom of the baking dish, place a tea towel in the bottom of the dish instead. This will prevent the ramekins from moving in the oven.
- You will also need to have about 1 L of warm water to add to the baking dish before baking. So keep a kettle or saucepan full of warm water at hand.
There! You are set!
For the Caramel
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
For the custard
3 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups half-n-half cream
1 cup whole milk
For the caramel
- Add the water in a small saucepan. Very slowly pour the sugar in the centre of the water, so as not to splash any sugar on the sides of the saucepan. Don’t worry if it does however! There is a solution: dip a pastry brush in water and use it to wipe away any sugar or any sugar crystals that may form.
- Turn the heat to medium and bring the sugar and water to a gentle simmer. Do not stir. The sugar will melt into the water. You can move the saucepan very gently in a circular motion over the heat, if need be, but do not stir. The liquid will go from clear to showing signs of yellow. Now watch this like a hawk because the syrup can burn in seconds! The syrup will eventually turn gold and get deeper in colour very fast. As soon as it turns to deep amber, remove it from the heat source. It will continue to darken a little more. Your caramel is now ready.
- Carefully pour the hot caramel into each ramekin and set aside. CAUTION: the caramel will be very hot so please be careful!
For the custard
- Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and adjust the oven rack to the centre position.
- In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolks. Add the sugar, salt and vanilla extract and whisk together until combined. Do not over mix.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the half-n-half cream and milk until it starts to simmer. Do not boil. (If it does boil, do not panic, it is not the end of the world! Just let it cool for a bit before proceeding to the next step).
- Add the warm cream and milk to the egg mixture and whisk constantly until all the sugar has melted. Pour through a sieve to catch any milk solids.
- Pour strained custard into ramekins with caramel. Place the ramekins in the prepared roaster or baking dish, over the wire rack or tea towel. Now slowly pour the warm water into the baking dish around the ramekins (not into the ramekins). Pour enough water to come about half way up the sides of the ramekins.
- Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil. Pierce a few holes into the foil with a fork to allow the steam to escape.
- Bake for about 40 – 45 minutes. To check if the custard is ready, gently shake one ramekin. The custard should jiggle a bit. Remove from the oven and carefully remove ramekins from the pan. Cool on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.
- While it is not essential to refrigerate the custard at this point, it always seems to taste better if it has had some time to chill! Cover it with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.
- When you are ready to serve, insert a small, sharp knife into the side of each ramekin and slide it around the edge. Then place a serving plate over the top and carefully flip both the ramekin and the plate together. Gently jiggle the inverted ramekin over the plate to release the formed Crème Caramel.