Creme Caramel

I’m not really sure why it happens, but way too often a favorite recipe gets forgotten in the stacks of new recipes, and sometimes years can go by before I wistfully remember how much I used to love that particular thing and why the heck has it been so long since I made it?!

That would be the case here.  Years ago I used to make crème caramel quite regularly, and we loved it immensely.   But then the other day I found this recipe languishing from neglect in the dessert file, and rescued it immediately with joyful nostalgia.

If you've never made crème caramel, it might actually seem familiar as it is sort of a cross between a flan, panna cotta and crème brulee, but it's slightly different from each and very easy to make.

You can use a store-bought caramel which makes this super easy, but I love making the caramel myself.  The flavors of home-made caramel sauce are rich and unctuous in a way that you cannot get from a jar.

So basically, just place your ramekins in a roasting pan and pour 1 to 2 tablespoons of your caramel sauce in the bottom of each one.

Mix up your custard and pour it on top of the caramel sauce. 

Fill the roasting pan with boiling water midway up the ramekins and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. 

Remove the ramekins from the pan to a towel-lined baking sheet and let cool, and then refrigerate until ready to serve.

You can eat this right out of the ramekin which is super delicious, but it’s so pretty when it’s turned out on a plate.  To do that, place the ramekin in a bowl of hot water to loosen the caramel

And then run a knife around the edge to release the custard from the ramekin.

Place your serving plate on top of the ramekin and invert.  The custard should release onto the plate with the caramel sauce on top.  (If it doesn’t release immediately, repeat the previous step and it should come right out).

I like to pour a little more of the warmed caramel sauce on top.  Oh my ever lovin’  goodness.  Would you look at that?!  Beautiful to serve, lovely to eat.

Creme Caramel

Printable Recipe

1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 tsp vanilla (or vanilla paste)
½ cup sugar
6 eggs (3 whole eggs and 3 separated, use yolks only)
*Caramel topping (store-bought or homemade - see below)

Put kettle of water on to boil.  Preheat oven to 350.

Pour 1 to 2 T of caramel into each of 8 custard cups.

In a saucepan, combine milk, half and half, vanilla and sugar.  Bring to a bare simmer over medium-low heat.

Separate 3 of the eggs; discard the whites or keep for another use.  In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining whole eggs and the yolks.  Whip the eggs with a whisk until slightly thickened and lightened in color.  While whisking the eggs, drizzle in about a quarter of the hot milk.  Now whisk the tempered eggs back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture.

Place the custard cups into a roasting pan.  Evenly distribute the custard into the custard cups.  Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and pour boiling water into the pan just under the level of the custard.

Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until they wobble slightly when the pan is wiggled.  Using tongs, remove the cups from the pan to a towel-lined sheet pan (I never have been able to use tongs to get the ramekins out of the pan.  I just use a hot pad).   Cool, cover and chill until ready to serve. 

To serve, place the ramekin in a small bowl of hot water to loosen the caramel.  Run a knife around the edge of the custard and place a serving plate on top.  Invert.  If the custard does not release, repeat the previous step.  If desired, drizzle with a little more of the caramel sauce.

* Making caramel sauce is really quite easy.  You will need 1 cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of whipping cream.

1.  Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed 2 or 3-qt saucepan over moderate heat.  When the sugar starts to melt at the edges, begin stirring to keep the sugar from burning in spots. Stir until the sugar comes to a boil and turns a medium amber color. (Don't let the sugar overcook as the caramel will taste really burnt).
2. Immediately add the butter to the pan and whisk until the butter has melted.
3. Remove from the heat and let the caramel rest for a few seconds and then slowly add the cream.  It will bubble up, but just keep whisking.   Once the cream is incorporated, pour the caramel into the ramekins. 
Store the leftover caramel sauce in a glass container in the refrigerator.  Warm before using again.