I had my first Creme Caramel around 4 years ago and I have been a fan of this dessert ever since. I love this velvety baked custard dish. This has become one of my favourite summer desserts! Light, chilled, refreshing, a silky smooth texture and just a hint of bitterness from the caramel, I am drooling!
Making Creme caramel at home is not tricky at all. Its just few simple steps and the results are restaurant quality. I'm not kidding.
I remember I had bought ramekins specially to make Creme caramel but you don't even need those. Heat resistant glass blows or baking dishes work brilliantly too.
There are two parts to this recipe, a simple caramel and the custard.
For the caramel:
1/2 cup Caster sugar or Powdered Jaggery
2 tbsp Water
For the custard:
1/4 cup Caster Sugar
1 and 1/2 cups Full fat milk
1/2 cup Fresh cream or whipping cream (whatever you can find)
For Vanilla flavour - 2 tsp Vanilla extract or paste
For mild Coffee flavour - 1 tsp Instant Coffee and 1 tsp Vanilla extract or paste
For strong Coffee flavour - 2 tsp Instant Coffee
For making the caramel, place the sugar/jaggery in a heavy bottom pan and add 2 tbsp of water. Place this over medium heat. If you are using sugar, keep cooking the mixture until it starts changing colour. Let the colour change to an amber and then take this off the stove.
If you are using Jaggery, first let the jaggery dissolve completely and then let it cook for around 4-5 minutes, until it starts to bubble. Take the pan off the flame.
Pour this caramel into your ramekins or heat proof glass bowls/baking dish and let it cool.
Upon cooling, the caramel will thicken and will set. You can do this step ahead of making the custard too. You can keep for few hours easily.
For making the custard, add the milk, cream, sugar and your preferred flavour in a heavy bottom sauce pan. Place it over medium flame and heat it till everything is dissolved completely. The mixture should be warm to touch, not too hot/boiling and not too cold either.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs properly with a hand whisk until it starts to froth. Take a strainer and pour the slightly warm milk mixture into the eggs and whisk this mixture until everything is well combined (this doesn't take time). Pour this mixture into your baking bowl on top of the set caramel.
Creme caramel is always baked in a water bath. This means that the baking bowls are placed on a tray with hot water and then baked. This actually is simpler than it sounds.
To do this, take a bigger baking tray or dish that can accommodate your baking bowls and fill it 1/3 with hot water (almost boiling hot). Place your baking bowls with the custard mixture into this water bath. Now bake this in a preheated oven for around 40-50 minutes at 180°C.
To check whether the custard is done, give the tray with water a little wiggle. If you see the custard mixture wiggling a lot, it needs more time in the oven. If the custard wiggles just a little in the middle and it's a slow wiggle, switch off the oven. Let the pudding cool in the oven. Once the oven is cooled, take out the baked pudding and chill it in the fridge for at least a couple of hours. I like chilling these overnight. This also means that you can make it in advance for a party etc.
For taking the pudding out of the bowls, run a knife just around the top edges of the baked custard. You don't have to run the knife till the bottom of the bowl. Now flip the bowl on the serving plate. You should be able to see the caramel running around the edges of the bowl first. Give the bottom of the bowl a few taps and the baked custard will slide off.
Tip: For a melt in the mouth texture of the custard, do not bake it for too long. Switch off the oven when you still see a very slight wiggle in the middle of the bowl. After the bowls have cooled completely in the oven, chill the pudding for around 4-8 hours before serving. This firms up the custard without overcooking it.
I hope you give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I do!