Créme caramel is a dessert that always looks impressive. It provides that little bit of sweetness – ‘the cherry on the top’ – at the end of a perfect meal!
Créme caramel is made with basic ingredients and is certainly not a complicated recipe. It can be made ahead of time and kept in the individual covered ramekins, in the fridge, for up to five days before turning out and serving. A large crème caramel should be made in a dish with a broad flat base with straight sides so that it can be easily turned out.
- ½ cup fine bakers sugar
- pinch of cream of tartar
- ¼ cup water
- 2½ cups milk
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Warm 6 (4-5-ounce) ramekins or a suitable 1-quart flat-based dish so that the caramel will flow easily and cover the base before it hardens. This can be done by placing them in a cool (170˚F) oven or by filling them with hot water - then emptying and drying them thoroughly just before use.
- Stir the sugar, cream of tartar and water together in a small saucepan, over medium heat, until the sugar dissolves. The cream of tartar prevents crystallization of the sugar.
- Boil rapidly, without stirring. After 5-8 minutes, the sugar will start to caramelize and change color. Tip/move the saucepan to brown evenly, but do not let it get too dark as it will then have a burnt flavor. Watch carefully as the stages from light to dark golden, go very quickly!
- Pour a little caramel into each ramekin and tip to coat the base. If using one large dish, pour all the caramel onto the base while tipping to cover evenly. Work quickly as the caramel will harden.
- Set aside.
- Scald the milk in a saucepan.
- Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla to blend, without making it frothy.
- Gradually add the hot milk and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour through a fine sieve before filling the prepared container(s).
- Place in a water bath (large Pyrex dish or deep baking pan with 1-2 inches of hot water) and bake at 325˚F for 35-45 minutes until just set. If one large dish is used, the baking time will increase to 50-60 minutes.
- When cold, refrigerate for at least 8 hours so that the caramel is liquid when turned out.
- To unmold, slide a knife carefully around the edge of the custard, cover with a suitable dish and invert.
Use the unused egg whites to make Pavlova shells or mini Pavlovas on page 122 in our book, South African Cooking in the USA.