Thursday, February 7, 2013

Voila! Creme Caramel!!

I believe creme caramel is the easiest, quickest and the most perfect dessert ever to have been invented. A big thank you to the French! This is my go-to recipe when we have a dinner get-together because it is an easily liked dessert. The smooth caramel is a perfect foil for the custard. So without much ado, I present to you - Creme Caramel!!

This recipe customized from Titli Nihaan's creme caramel

Preparation Time - 30 minutes
Baking Time - 50 - 55 minutes
Serves 6


For caramel
Sugar - 1 cup
Water - 4 Tbsps

For the Creme (custard)
Whole milk - 3 cups
Eggs - 4 large
Vanila essence - 1 Tsp
Sugar - 2/3 cups

The baking pan used must be immersed in hot water before popping into the oven. So we will need - 9" round pan for the custard and a 13" X 9" rectangular pan for the water bath.


Making caramel

A few noteworthy points-
  • Its better to use stainless steel saucepan. Non-stick did not work for me.
  • Use filtered water
  • Stand a bit away from furnace. Melting sugar is not the most pleasant thing to have on your bare skin. It is scalding hot!
  • Caramel making needs baby-sitting. It can go from caramel to burnt caramel in a few seconds. So do keep a constant watch (Checking laundry, having coffee while the sugar melts, going for a sneak peak at your facebook page, non of that.. na-ah!.. This comes from my bitter experiences.. sob!)
  • I have moved away from the conventional method, which says to 'never stir' and 'let sugar slowly melt on low heat'. Somehow these methods did not work for me (maybe because my saucepan was not wide enough, I really don't know!). On the contrary, I did stir and I did make it on high heat and it came out just fine. This idea was from here -
Well, here goes - Add sugar and water and lightly stir till sugar is wet. On medium-high heat, gently stir till sugar dissolves (about 10 minutes; you don't need to constantly stir, instead we can also swirl the pan on the heat).

If sugar is hardening on the sides of pan, just add droplets of water and gently scrape it back into the syrup. Once sugar is dissolved, turn heat to high, cover pan and cook for about 4 more minutes. When syrup starts to boil and bubble, just swirl the pan from time to time. 

In about 4 minutes, the syrup will stop bubbling and start changing colour to light brown. Remove from heat and quickly pour into baking pan. Swirl pan to spread caramel evenly before it hardens. 

Note - Caramel still cooks when removed from heat, so remove when it is light brown, otherwise it can get burnt

Making Creme (custard)

For the water bath, boil enough water to half-fill a 13 X 9 pan. Pre-heat oven to 320 F (160 C).

Heat milk and vanilla till it comes to boil. Simmer for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Pour in 1/4 of the milk and whisk. Then pour rest of the milk while constantly stirring.  Ok, custard is done!

Pour custard into the round pan with caramel. Place round pan into the larger rectangular pan and fill the rectangular pan with boiling water until it comes half-way up the round pan. Bake for about 50 - 55 minutes. We know its done when the top is firm but if you shake the pan the pudding will wobble.

Cool for about 25 - 30 minutes before refrigerating for at-least 2 hours (maximum over-night). When you're ready to serve, scrape the side of pan with a blunt knife, place a large plate on top and quickly invert holding the pan firmly. The caramel will drip down the sides. Its ready to serve! Delicious!!