Créme Caramel

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Créme Caramel

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: Prep - 20 mins; cooking - ±1 hr; chilling - 4-6 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Demolished crème caramel

Ingredients

  • 1¼c sugar
  • 4T water
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 litre milk – full cream is the nicest
  • Pinch salt
  • 1t vanilla essence, the seeds from one vanilla pod or a squirt of NoMU’s vanilla paste
  • Ground cinnamon (optional)

Method

Preheat the oven to 160°C.

To make the sauce, place a cup of the sugar (i.e. not all of it – you need some for the custard too) in a saucepan with the water. Give it a brief stir, then bring it to the boil without stirring it any further.

Now leave it on the heat to caramelise, again without stirring. You’ll notice that it starts to change colour and when it does, you can give the pot a very gentle swirl – not a stir – to spread the heat and colour a bit.

Leave it to boil further until it reaches a deep caramel colour, which can take between 5 and 10 minutes. Note: you need to watch it like a hawk as soon as it starts changing colour – it can go from nearly there to burnt in about 10 seconds!

While you wait:

Fill a large flat oven-proof container with a couple of centimetres of water and place it in the oven to warm up. The container should be big enough to hold the dish you’ll be putting your crème caramel in, leaving some space around it. A roasting tray or a large, flat casserole dish works well. This is called a bain-marie and it helps the custard to get that lovely smooth texture.

Butter either an oven-proof dish that is large enough to hold at least 1,5l of liquid (preferably 2l to give you some wiggle room when you move it) or individual ramekins if you’re going the elegant route.

Break the eggs into a large mixing bowl and add the remaining ¼c of sugar. Whisk the two together fairly well. The sugar won’t dissolve completely but that’s fine. Add the milk, salt and vanilla to the egg and whisk well again.

Be sure to keep an eye on the caramel while you’re busy, especially towards the end. I usually take it off when it’s a medium-dark brown, which gives it a tiny taste of bitterness, which I think offsets the sweetness. You can take it off a bit earlier but not later – if it gets much darker, it will be very bitter. And yes, it has happened before that I’ve been distracted, let it go too far and had to start again [sigh].

Very carefully, as hot sugar is VERY hot, pour the caramel into the buttered dish/es and tip the dish/es to swirl it around and coat the bottom.

As soon as you’ve done that, pour boiling water into the pot you cooked the caramel in as it starts setting immediately. If you leave it to soak while you’re busy, it will be much easier to clean later.

Now pour the egg and milk mixture on top of the caramel in the bowl.

Very gently, and being careful not to burn your hands on the bottom of the bowl (which will now be quite hot due to the caramel), move the bowl to the water-filled container in the oven. The water should come about half-way up the sides of the crème caramel dish so if it’s a bit low, use a jug to pour some more hot water in. Just make sure none of the water gets into the egg and milk or you’ll end up with very watery custard.

Depending on your oven, it might be easier to take the whole thing out the oven, put the bowl into the water, and then put the whole thing slowly back in, being careful not to slop water into the egg mixture as you do so.

Leave it to cook slowly for 45 minutes to an hour (individual ones will take less time, around 25 – 30 minutes), depending on the depth of your crème caramel bowl/s. It’s done when you can put a knife into the centre and it comes out clean.

Again very carefully using oven gloves or a couple of cloths, and taking care not to get water into it, remove the crème caramel bowl from the water and put it on a cooling rack.

Sprinkle cinnamon over the cooked crème caramel and leave it to cool.

Once it’s cooled, carefully transfer it to the fridge and leave it to set for 4 – 6 hours or overnight.

When you serve it, give each person some caramel along with their crème. It’s delicious as is, or with a bit of pouring cream and/or fresh berries.

Variations

Coffee flavour:
Use about 1T of very strong brewed coffee or dissolve 1T of instant coffee in about 1T hot water. Add it to the eggs along with the milk. The key is not to add too much extra liquid or you may end up with watery custard.

Cardamom flavour:
Crush about 6 cardamom pods and remove the seeds. Add the seeds to a small saucepan with about half a cup of the milk and warm very gently on the stove. Remove from heat as soon as the milk is hot (don’t let it boil), then let it sit until it’s just about cool again so the cardamom can flavour the milk. If you don’t fancy seeds in your custard, you may want to strain them out before you add the flavoured milk to the eggs, along with the rest of the milk.

 

© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2015

http://www.inspirednourishment.wordpress.com

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