I know I always say I get nervous before I try a new recipe but I was especially nervous for this one, particularly because this dessert has been in my family for as long as I can remember. I grew up eating creme caramel so technically it has to be one of my favorite desserts.
I remember my mother telling me this was the only dessert she knew how to make. She's not a cook by nature and doesn't really like to spend time in the kitchen so when she told me this was one of her favorites to make, I thought well how hard can it be. If my mother can do it, so can I. Right?
Wrong. There are a couple of pressure points to take note of before tackling this recipe. First of all, the caramel. You need to be very careful when making caramel because A) Once it starts to caramelize, keep a watchful eye as it burns easily. Timing is super important. B) If the caramel accidentally gets on your finger or anywhere else, do not attempt to "rub it off" because you can and will the skin off your finger. I always keep a small bowl of cold or tepid water next to me so you can immediately dip your finger in the water. Seriously. Sugar burn. Not cool at all. It happened to me. Twice.
I baked these, as you would a brulee, in a roasting pan filled half way up with hot water. My mother tells me she doesn't like creme caramel being made this way (yet, she had 2 servings). She likes the steaming method better, which is how everyone in my family does it. By steaming, the creme caramel actually takes on a slight gelatinous texture, almost like a soft jell-o. These ones I made were creamy, really silky and creamy. The flavor was amazingly amazing, just like the ones I used to eat as a child but the texture wasn't similar.
The only person I so wanted to please was my father. This is his favorite dessert and I knew he would compare mine to how my grandma used to make them. I literally stood next to him and watched him finish this in 2 tablespoonfuls, and then he said "Can I have another one?". I acted all cool like it wasn't a big deal, "Yeah sure, let me see if there's still any."
Don't let the caramel making process scare you because it is completely worth it. If I can do it. So can you. This is a great recipe to have in your little book. I certainly will make this again and next time in bigger ramekins! (These 4oz ones are way too small)
featured on The Cookworks on The Food Network Channel
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster or fine sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Special equipment: a pastry brush, 6 (4-ounce) ramekins
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Place the sugar and water in a heavy-bottomed saucepot over low heat. Let the sugar dissolve. Carefully brush the walls of the pot with a little water to prevent the sugar from crystallizing on the sides. Increase the heat to medium-high and boil until the syrup turns golden brown. Remove from the heat promptly and carefully divide the hot caramel among the 6 ramekins. Let cool for at least 2 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk and cream to just below a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mix together the egg yolks, caster sugar, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Place the mixing bowl on top of a towel to keep it from wobbling while whisking in the hot liquid. Gently whisk 2 tablespoons of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Slowly whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture 1/3 at a time, trying to prevent excess bubbles. Strain though a sieve.
Place 6 ramekins evenly spaced in a paper towel-lined baking dish to prevent the ramekins from sliding. Pour 6 ounces into each caramel-coated ramekin. Place on the extended middle rack of the oven. Carefully pour boiling water into the baking dish until 2/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekins. (Be careful not to get any water on the custard mixture.) Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and very gently slide it towards the center of the rack. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the custards are almost fully set. Remove from the oven. Use tongs to remove the ramekins from the hot water bath. Let stand at room temperature for 5 minutes, then refrigerate until well chilled.
To serve, dip the ramekin in very hot water for 15 to 20 seconds. Run a sharp knife around the sides of the ramekin. Invert the custards onto serving plates. The caramel will pool around the inverted custards. Serve immediately.
(Recipe can be found here)