So, here is the ULTIMATE recipe for Crème Caramel that I have been indulging in lately.
I call it ‘Ultimate’ because, I can honestly say it really is the most creamiest, & yet most delicate Crème Caramel I’ve ever tasted in my life! Every luscious spoon sends blissful melt-down of your surroundings, & before you know it, it’s gone… – & you curse yourself for not making more. Yup, ladies & gents, it’s THAT good.
It is dead-easy to make too if you follow certain steps. Crème Caramel in basic terms is literally just a three-step method: mix, sieve & water bath, with the most simplest of ingredients (eggs, sugar, milk & cream optional). The most important trick to keep in mind is to try NOT TO incorporate AIR, as the final silky texture will suffer greatly.
In this special recipe, I did not use any egg-whites, as per normal Crème Caramel recipes. It relies on just egg-yolks to set the liquids. This is what makes this that extra rich & thick in flavour, yet delicate, as well as the softest you’ll ever ever taste. Despite no egg-whites, it keeps its shape very well, so long as you refrigerate it for a good 4 hours. (Note: Although, if you’re using a very big mould, it maybe better to look for a recipe that uses whole eggs &/or gelatine that will help to hold its shape better.)
Please keep in mind the quantity of ingredients listed below makes roughly 6 to 8 individual Crème Caramels. It’s all dependent on the size of your chosen moulds. The best way to know how many this quantity will make is to measure 700ml of water & fill the moulds to see how many it fills.
Did I convince you? Maybe you feel a bit resistant…? Did the fact that you have to steep it in water for a long time put you off? I understand, I was like that before. But! Once you get in to the new slow rhythm of it, you’ll adjust, I promise! 🙂 It’ll become second nature to remember to prepare the rice in advance, just like remembering to put on the shoes on before you go out! And you’ll start to see the benefits too – like how your energy lasts throughout the day! So why not start a brown rice life together with me? 🙂
(Above pic: I didn’t have moulds that were all the same, so I used my collection of Japanese tea cups instead! – The two illustrated ones are from my childhood. And the one with the writing is a soba (buckwheat noodle) sauce dish that my parents brought over from Japan over 25 years ago!)
THE ULTIMATE CREME CARAMEL RECIPE
For the caramel:
40 cc Water
For the Crème:
250cc Double cream
4 x Egg yolks
60g Sugar (granulated or castor)
A few drops of Vanilla essence OR half a vanilla pod, split length ways.
Prepare this before you begin:
– Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees.
– Butter inside the individual moulds so that the Creme Caramel de-moulds smoothly.
– Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, as cold egg won’t mix well with the milk.
1. First make the caramel. Stir 80g of sugar & 40cc of water to a syrup in a small thick bottomed pan. Then cook on medium heat so that the whole base of the pan is equally heated. During this time do not stir too much.
2. Once it starts to colour, stir with a wooden spoon. The colour will start to darken – & once you reach ‘a step or two before’ your desired darkness, take it off the heat & SLOWLY pour & stir in the 20cc of water to stop it colouring any further.
3. Immediately pour the caramel in to your moulds before it becomes too thick to handle.
4. Make sure the bottom is completely covered by tilting the mould around.
Never let the caramel darken too much, it’ll taste too bitter. The caramel suddenly turns from sugar liquid to dark & bitter in a split second, so I advise you take it off the heat (in step 2) while it is slightly lighter still. It’ll darken ultra-quickly while you’re stirring more water in to it anyway.
– Never leave it cooking alone. It is dangerously hot.
– Never ever pour the water in to it in one go. It is highly dangerous as it will foam up like mad & increase in volume & splutter.
5. Next, make the Crème. Heat the 250cc milk & the 250cc double cream in a pan – (with half a vanilla pod if you’re using it instead of vanilla essence).
Here, never let it reach the boil. Or more precisely, never let it go over 60 degrees as the milk will form a skin on the surface. At 60 degrees the protein coagulates when exposed to air. So skimming & throwing away this skin means you are throwing away the delicious proteins & fat molecules.
6. While the milk mixture is heating, GENTLY whisk the 4 egg yolks in a mixing bowl.
7. Then mix in the sugar GENTLY.
Always mix the sugar into the eggs straight away. Don’t leave the sugar lying around with the egg as the sugar will absorb moisture from your egg & leave dry gravelly bits. – Always stir the sugar in SLOWLY. Do it as if you’re cutting it up, rather than whisking it, as if you’re scraping the sugar against the bowl. Crème Caramel is a dish that purely uses the solidifying power of the egg as it heats, so the finer you ‘cut’ the egg yolk up, & incorporate it in to the mixture, the better the overall texture. – DO NOT INCORPORATE AIR whilst mixing. This is the most vital trick to make your final Creme Caramel smooth.
8. Pour & mix the hot milk/ cream liquid in to your egg bowl. Add vanilla essence if you are using it instead of vanilla pod.
Pour in a small amount first & mix, & then pour some more. Let the egg mixture get used to the hot liquid little by little, as you don’t want it to curdle. Never pour the hot liquid in to it in one go. You have to be cautious as eggs solidify at 60-70 degrees, although the sugar should act as a good blanket.
9. Lay a few layers of kitchen paper or a cloth inside a roasting pan, & place your moulds.
10. Use a sieve & slowly pour the mixture in to the moulds.
11. Remove air bubbles by tapping mould lightly on your work table, &/or by using spoon. Lightly dabbing the bubble with kitchen towel also works well.
12. Lid each mould tightly with aluminium foil.
Laying some kitchen paper stops directly heating your Crème Caramel from the bottom. – The temperature of the Crème mixture should still be warm (if it is cold, it’ll take longer to bake in the oven). – Sieving the Crème mixture gets rid of air bubbles, aswell as the chalaza (the ropey strands of egg white). – Lidding the moulds with foil prevents the top surface from drying under direct oven heat.
13. Boil lots of water in the kettle. And pop the roasting pan with the prepared moulds in to the pre-heated oven. Keep the door ajar to pour the hot water in the pan, half to two-thirds up.
It’s best to pour the hot water in to your water-bath when the pan is already on the oven shelf. This way, it is less likely for the water to accidentally make way in to your moulds while transferring from work-table to oven.
14. Bake for 20 minutes at 160 degrees, & then 10 minutes at 170 degrees without the lid. After the baking time, remove from the oven. Check if baked thoroughly by gently shaking it sideways. If it wobbles too much & creases form in the middle, put it back in the oven for another 3 minutes & check again (crease form when the sides are cooked, but not the middle). ‘Bouncy’ & ‘springy’ wobble is cooked.
15. Take it out of the water bath, & leave aside to cool. Once cool, refrigerate for a good 4 hours before serving so that it sets fully.
16. To de-mould, run the edge of the knife around the rim. Place inverted plate on it. Hold both mould & plate firmly together, then flip it so that the mould is on top. Gently shake up & down. It should smoothly come out. Let the caramel sauce pool around the set Crème.
Bon Appétit! 🙂