Well you all did so well on my tarte tatin recipe that I wanted to serve you up another French classic, which also requires easy everyday ingredients. La Crème Caramel is loved by the French, young and old alike. the creamy texture, the subtle vanilla flavour to the cream and the stronger caramel is a wonderful combination.
This looks sophisticated but if you follow a couple of easy steps it's actually about the easiest dessert around. Same game applies this week, if you make the crème, then take a photo and email it to me and I'll add yours to the end of the post and link back to you.
Here I'll show you how to make individual crèmes, but actually the recipe is exactly the same if you want to make one big one, it will still turn upside down just as well.
I always make mine with 1 litre or 2 pints of milk. This will either make one big crème (make in a soufflé dish) or about 8 ramekins. What makes the crème set is the egg whites, what makes it creamy is the egg yolks.
First make your caramel. There's nothing easier, 1 cup of sugar in a pan with half a cup of water and turn up the heat. The sugar dissolves, then starts to bubble then it will begin to turn golden brown.
You want to turn the heat off when it gets to this colour. If it gets too dark the caramel becomes bitter and you'll have to start again!
As soon as the colour is right pour the caramel into your mould or into each ramekin and swirl it around while it's still hot. You want the base of the mould covered in caramel. That's it, you're done with the caramel!
Now for the cream. Pre-heat your oven to 330F or 180C. In a pan heat 2 pints (1 litre) of milk with a vanilla pod. As you know a vanilla pod looks like a long black bean. To get all the flavour out, split the bean lengthwise and with the tip of a knife scrape out the tiny black seeds, they are what give the most flavour. Heat the milk gently until almost boiling then turn it off and let the vanilla infuse while you mix the other ingredients.
In a bowl mix together 5 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks and 1 cup or 7 oz of sugar. Pour the vanilla flavoured milk onto the egg mixture and beat well.
Reach for your ramekins or soufflé dish that are waiting quietly with the caramel and pour the cream mixture into each dish. Stand them in a deep tray with hot water coming half way up each ramekin or dish, this is a bain-marie, and pop into the oven.
Bake them for about half an hour. To see if they are done, insert a sharp knife into the centre of a crème, it must come out clean. Purists cover the baking dish with foil, I feel that life is too short for that sort of detail and anyway we like our creams to looks a liitle golden on top, or rather on the bottom once they are reversed.
Yes that's right, you are going to reverse these crèmes! And it's really easy. Once you're sure they are properly cooked, remove from the oven and let them cool completely. Run a knife around the edge to release the crème from the ramekin or dish. Place a soup plate or shallow dish over the top and oup-la flip it upside down.
As the cream slips into the dish it makes a nice sort of schloupy sound. Carefully remove the ramekin or soufflé dish and voilà ! You have a perfect crème caramel. Congratulations.
Although I make this dessert quite regularly, I cannot take the credit for these rather outstanding photos. I borrowed them from Pastrypal, who I thank warmly.
Here however is a picture of the cream I made on Sunday, just before it was turned upside down. I was about to take the final picture when the vultures descended and there was hardly anything left to photograph.