Monday, June 10, 2013

Creme Caramel

My grandmother was French and there was a lot of french cuisine growing up.  One thing that made appearances for special occasions was her creme caramel.  In the scattering of some of my grandmother's things, I got two of her creme caramel ramekins (along with the plastic mugs that we kids used to drink out of in the house in Maine).

As an adult, I think I would like this a lot more now than I feel I exhibited as a child. From the Amateur Gourmet.

Crème Caramel
Summary: By way of Julia Child and the Gratinee blog. 

  • 1 vanilla bean (it’s worth it to buy a vanilla bean for this recipe; if you really don’t want to, use 1 teaspoon really good vanilla extract) 
  • 2 1/2 cups milk 
  • 2/3 cup sugar (for the caramel) PLUS 1/2 cup sugar (for the custard) 
  • 1/3 cup water 
  • 3 eggs 
  • 3 egg yolks 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. 
  2. Start by steeping the vanilla bean in the milk. Slice the pod in half vertically (a paring knife works well), scrape the seeds out with the side of the knife and add them, along with the pod, to the milk in a pot. Turn up the heat, whisk a little (helps break up the seeds) and when you see bubbles around the rim turn off the heat and allow the milk to steep while you complete the rest of the steps. 
  3. Set four to six ramekins on the counter and begin to make your caramel. Add the sugar (that’s 2/3 cup) and water together in a pot and bring up the heat to medium/high. Don’t stir but rotate the pan around to help the sugar dissolve. As it cooks (and depending on how high you have the heat, this could take a while) the color will eventually start to change. Watch it carefully. When it turns a very dark amber, almost brown, pour it directly into the ramekins. (Be careful: that’s sticky, scalding hot stuff.) Swirl the ramekins around a little so it gets an even coating of caramel. Set the pan aside and you can clean it later by adding water and bringing it to a boil and whisking; the caramel will dissolve easily. 
  4. Now make your custard. Beat the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into the eggs and egg yolks until light and foamy. Gradually add the warm milk mixture (remove the vanilla pod first), whisking all the while, until you have something that looks like a custard. Strain it into a separate bowl. 
  5. Pour the strained custard into the ramekins on top of the caramel and then put the ramekins in a large roasting pan or baking dish. Fill the pan with boiling water so it comes halfway up the ramekins and place the whole pan, carefully, into the oven. (If you’re nervous, you can put the pan in the oven first and add the boiling water while it’s in the oven. Up to you. Depends on your balancing ability.) 
  6. Bake for 5 minutes then turn the temperature down to 325 and bake another 40 minutes or until the center of each ramekin is no longer wobbly. (I just stuck my finger on top of the custard and felt it; when it was mostly firm, I knew it was done.) Remove the pan from the oven, take the ramekins out and allow them to come to room temperature. Then cover with plastic and refrigerate until ready to serve. 
  7. To serve, run a knife around the edge of the ramekin, put a plate on top and flip the ramekin over. Pat it a few times to help the custard come down and then lift. If all goes according to plan, you’ll have a cute little ramekin-shaped custard topped with caramel and surrounded by caramel sauce. Job well done. 
Preparation time: 45 minute(s)
Cooking time: 45 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 6

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