Friday, April 27, 2012

Classic Creme Caramel

Creme Caramel has been one of my most favorite desserts ever since I was a little kid. My Mom used to make it all the time. Then, when I became a teenager and developed an interest in baking/cooking, I started making it myself. It is a simple, yet really elegant dessert and certainly a very classy finish to any dinner party.

Creme Caramel is actually the French name for this yumminess. In the U.S. it is more commonly known as flan. It is equally delicious, whichever way you prefer to call it. :)

In order to make it, you will need about 6 ramekins and a deep baking pan which can accommodate them.

For the custard:
2 cups whole milk
4 eggs
1 cup sugar

Heat the milk until very hot but not boiling (at this stage, if you want to shake things up, you can infuse the milk with different kinds of tea, citrus peels, vanilla beans, etc by letting them steep for about 15-20 minutes and then discarding). Separately, in a medium-size bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until really pale. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg/sugar mixture and mix until well incorporated. Let cool. 

For the caramel:
3/4 sugar
1/4 water

In a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring sugar and water to boil over medium-high heat whisking constantly. When mixture starts to boil, turn heat to medium-low and stop whisking. Continue to simmer until mixture turns golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Quickly pour into ramekins, swirling to coat bottom and sides.

Preheat oven to 350F.
To prepare your water bath, pour about an inch of hot water in a deep baking pan.

Pour the egg custard mixture on top of the caramel and set your ramekins into the baking pan. Add more water if necessary, the water should come to about half way up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for about 35-45 minutes or until the middle still jiggles a bit when shaken as the mixture will continue to cook and set when refrigerated.

Let the water bath cool off for a few minutes and remove the ramekins. Let them cool off to room temperature. Refrigerate a couple of hours before serving, and up to 2 days.

To serve, gently loosen the edge of the creme caramel with the tip of a sharp knife to help release the custard and cover mold with an inverted serving platter. While holding the platter against the mold, flip over. Gently lift off mold. Caramel will fall as a liquid sauce over the custard.

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