This is a delightful light recipe most children and adults enjoy. If you like custard / pudding to you Americans, then you’ll love Creme Caramels. They can be eaten hot or cold and at any time of day or night. Now Creme Caramel is not the same as Creme Brulee. Creme Caramel has a sweet runny top and you flip it out onto a plate. Creme Brulee you serve still in the ramekins and it has a hard crystallised caramel topping and no runny sauce. The egg custard bases are otherwise the same so now you know the difference when someone asks you to describe a Creme Caramel and a Creme Brulee! Originally a French recipe this is very popular in the UK and one of my favourite puddings of all time! This recipe seems quite simple, it only has 4 ingredients: sugar, milk, eggs and vanilla. But it is very tricky and you have to get your timing right especially on the caramel! A top notch Creme Caramel to tick all the right boxes should have a slight wobble, hold its shape, be golden brown on top but not burnt, have a soft blancmange like texture and be smooth and silky as it slides down. It’s quite a tough one to get right but practice makes perfect! Why not have a go and delight all your friends and family, the turn out is the best part because its judgement time- did the Creme Caramels set or didn’t they? Have fun! 😀
What you need to know:
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Oven temp.: 350 °F / 175 °C
Ingredients for 8 Creme Caramels:
For the caramel top:
1 cup / 225 g sugar
1/4 cup / 60 ml water
For the egg custard:
21/2 cups / 625 ml milk
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks (no whites)
1 tbsp / 5 g pure vanilla
1/2 cup / 115 g sugar
8 small ramekins
1 large baking tray
1 non stick pan for the caramel
1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F / 175 °C. First of all we need to make the caramel. Add 1 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup water into the non stick pan and mix together for 1 minute. Then leave the sugary water alone. Resist temptation to mix it when the sugar starts turning to caramel. Turn the heat to medium high and bring the sugary water to a simmer, reduce the heat and let the sugar turn brown and then into caramel. You can swirl the pan a little to get all the sugar to melt but do not stir the mixture or put any wooden / metal utensil into it.
2. Once you get a dark amber colour, It should take about 10-15 mins, remove from the heat, turn off the stove and pour the caramel into the 8 small ramekins. Swirl the caramel around the bottom of each ramekin for even coverage. It should run smoothly and not be hard and sticky. Hard sticky bottoms are not nice lol. 😀
3. Now we need to make the custard. In a bowl mix 3 whole eggs and 3 egg yolks (so 6 egg yolks and 3 egg whites in total) with 1/2 cup of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Do NOT whisk the eggs with an electric whisk, you can use a hand whisk or just a fork. We don’t want to put air into it.
4. Slowly heat the milk in a pan on the stove until its hot but do not boil. When ready turn off the heat and slowly pour the milk into the egg and sugar mixture stirring continuously. Pour slowly to temper the eggs otherwise you’ll end up cooking the eggs in the bowl. The idea of tempering the eggs is to bring the eggs up to a very high temperature without actually cooking them.
5. Stir in the vanilla and in a separate bowl and over a sieve pour the whole egg custard mixture in. This removes the skin on the custard if you have one and any other lumps that are still there.
6. Pour the custard mixture into the ramekins on top of the caramel. (I used china tea cups as I don’t have ramekins yet! China or porcelain work. Glass and silicone don’t.)
7. Pop the ramekins into a bamboree. A bamboree is a posh word for a water bath or baking tray filled with boiling water. Boil the kettle and fill the baking tray with the boiling water so that the water is at the same level as the egg custard in the ramekins. This helps to maintain a constant temperature and stops the sides and tops burning as sugar burns quickly.
8. Leave to bake in the oven at 175 degrees C for about 30 mins. After 30 mins remove from the oven and carefull take the ramekins out and leave on the side to cool for 10 mins.
9. With a thin knife loosen around the edges and hold a plate over the ramekin. Using both hands flip the ramekin and plate and lift off the ramekin. The creme caramel should turn out beautifully without sticking and should look like a little amber gem on the plate!
10. Serve with cream, fresh berries or on its own. Eat on the same day as baking them or latest by the end of the second day. Enjoy!
Tip: Creme Caramels can be stored in their ramekins in the fridge to keep fresh but make sure before you turn them out they come up to room temperature first. Let them sit on the worktop for about 30 mins then turn them out otherwise they will stick to the ramekins.