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Classic Crème Caramel

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Serves six.

  • To learn more, read:
    A Trio of Silky Custards
  • by from Fine Cooking
    Issue 25

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 vanilla bean or 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • Pinch salt
For the caramel:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
For the custard:

Heat the oven to 325°F. Heat the cream and milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat until scalded (you'll see small bubbles on the sides of the pan). Split the vanilla bean in half, if using, and scrape the seeds into the cream. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the sugar into the egg yolks and eggs. Slowly whisk the hot cream/milk into the sugar/yolk mixture. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a pitcher or measuring cup. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract, if using.

For the caramel:

Arrange six 6-oz. ramekins in a baking dish with deep sides and set aside. Put remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a clean saucepan. Carefully add just enough water to dissolve the sugar, and set the pot over high heat.

After a few minutes, the mixture will come to a furious boil; several minutes later, as more water evaporates, it will boil more viscously, and finally it will start to color. Swirl the pan around to even out the caramelization. Once the sugar has started to caramelize, watch it carefully. It takes just seconds for caramel to go from great to burnt.

Creme Caramel Recipe
The mixture will come to a furious boil.

When the caramel is an even dark brown, carefully pour it into the ramekins. Caramel at this stage is over 300°F, so be extremely careful when handling it. Divide it evenly so that each ramekin is covered with a thin layer of dark brown caramel.

Creme Caramel Recipe
Each ramekin is covered with a thin layer of dark brown caramel.
To bake:

Pour the custard into the caramel-lined ramekins, fill the baking dish with water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins and cover the dish with foil. Bake until just set, 25 to 50 minutes. Remember to start checking early; baking time will depend on the thickness and depth of your ramekins and baking dish. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and let the ramekins cool in the water bath. Remove, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

 Run a thin knife around the edge of the custard and invert onto a dessert plate, scraping any caramel from the ramekin onto the custard.

Variations

Espresso custard
Omit the vanilla. Crush 1/2 cup espresso beans into coarse pieces, add to the cream/milk, and heat to a simmer. Remove from the heat; infuse for 5 minutes. Strain and proceed.

Ginger custard
Omit the vanilla. Cut a 3-inch piece of fresh ginger into very thin slices, add to the cream/milk, and heat to a simmer. Remove from the heat; infuse for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain, bring back to a simmer, and proceed.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 480; Fat (g): fat g 35; Fat Calories (kcal): 310; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 20; Protein (g): protein g 6; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 38; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 125; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 290; Fiber (g): fiber g 0;

Photo: Ben Fink

Very easy to make! Uber delish! I've made this recipe 3 times on 3 occasions and they've always turned out great!

This was hands down the best dessert I have ever made or eaten.

This was hands down the best dessert I have ever made or eaten.

This recipe is perfect, impressive, delicious. I was so proud of myself I made it. It is not difficult, you have to follow the recipe, dont change anything. I decorated the dishes with a little of concentrated balsamic.

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