Monday, December 8, 2014

The 12 Posts of Christmas (2014 edition) #3

As joyous as the Christmas season is for me (with my birthday, and both LBA and SoBA), I am always mindful that my mother isn't around to be here - and Christmas was her favorite holiday.  While this dessert was really a signature dish for my grandmother, my mother made it on occasion as well.  I actually have two of my grandmother's creme caramel cups at the launchpad.

I should make this for Christmas.

Creme Caramel
(from Chocolate and Zucchini)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 6 hours
Makes 6 servings

For the caramel:
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) white sugar (see note) 
  • 1 tablespoon water
For the custard:
  • 650 ml (2 3/4 cups) milk (I use fresh lait demi-écrémé -- 2% milk -- but you can also use whole milk or non-dairy milk; I wouldn't recommend skim) 
  • 50 grams (1/4 cup) unrefined blond cane sugar (you can use the unrefined sugar of your choice, just keep in mind that a darker sugar will make the custard a bit brown) 
  • 1 fresh vanilla bean, split open and beans scraped, or 1 tablespoon homemade vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon store-bought natural vanilla extract 
  • 4 large organic eggs

Have ready 6 ovenproof ramekins or cups, each about 160 ml (2/3 cup) in capacity.

First, make the caramel. Combine the 100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar and the water in a large saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and let the sugar melt without stirring, simply swirling the pan around from time to time so it caramelizes evenly.

As it boils, the caramel will turn golden, then golden brown, and when it darkens to a deep amber, remove from the heat and immediately pour into the prepared ramekins, swirling around to coat the bottoms evenly.

Place the ramekins on a deep rimmed baking sheet, or a baking dish large enough to accommodate them comfortably.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F) and bring water to a boil in the kettle.

Make the custard. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and vanilla, and bring to just under a simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching. Let cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl with a pouring spout, beat the eggs lightly. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl, and pour in a quarter of the milk, then whisk to combine. Repeat with the remaining milk in three additions.

Pour the custard into the prepared ramekins.

Pour very hot water from the kettle into the rimmed baking sheet and around the ramekins to about half their height -- this will help conduct the heat evenly.

Insert into the oven, lower the heat to 120°C (250°F) and cook for 30 minutes, until the custards are set but still jiggly, and the blade of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Turn off the oven and leave the ramekins in for another 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight before serving.

To serve, run a knife carefully around the custard to loosen, place a small serving plate over the ramekin, and flip to unmold, shaking a bit as needed.

  • I use unrefined cane sugar in practically all my recipes, but it doesn't caramelize well due to the impurities, so I revert to regular white sugar when making caramel.

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