Cream Caramel ooh la la!

Cream caramel, or creme caramel is a beautifully simple dessert that just requires a little bit of time, and a little bit of inside knowledge 😉

This dessert starts with a layer of toffee/caramel in the bottom of a heatproof mould. A simple egg custard – flavoured as you like it, is poured over the top of the toffee. The whole thing is cooked in a water bath, or  bain marie, the French term for this method of cooking.

When the custard has cooked gently in the oven to wobbly deliciousness, you chill it overnight: or a least 6 hours, if you can’t wait…

When you unmould your lovely dessert onto the serving platter, out she gently plops, with a suntanned top and sitting in a glorious puddle of liquid caramel.

I have made several versions/flavours of this classic dessert, all lovely in their own way. Orange flavoured custard is just sublime, as is coconut milk. I have made a version with evaporated milk, and a version with condensed milk – and a version that used both! All were lovely. The condensed milk+evaporated milk version is popular in the Philippines, where cream caramel goes by the name of Leche.

The Thais like to make a version (without the caramel) that contains pumpkin puree, and is often baked/steamed in a scooped out pumpkin. A bit like the pumpkin pie filling our friends from the USA enjoy. The Thai version is also lactose free as it contains only coconut milk, no dairy milk or cream.

This is my recipe for cream caramel

Pre-heat the oven to 350F

You will need:

cream-car-ingredients.jpg

TOFFEE

  • 2 cups of white sugar
  • 3/4 of a cup of cold water

CUSTARD

  • 6 fresh as you can get them eggs
  • 1 and a half cups of cream
  • 1 and a half cups of milk
  • 1/2 a cup of white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste or a vanilla pod or 2 teaspoons of extract

THIS IS WHAT YOU DO

Get out  a mould for the dessert. Today I used a loaf pan. The other night my mum served one that had been made in a lovely oval shaped, fluted cake tin. You can use a souffle dish, a cake tin, anything deep enough and heatproof really. You can also use ramekins and make individual cream caramels.

Get out a heavy base saucepan. Tip in the 2 cups of sugar and the cold water. Set the pan on a low heat and just stand there and gently stir it to dissolve the sugar. The sugar needs to dissolve into the water before it comes to the boil. Don’t stir too roughly either- sugar that goes up the walls of the pan will crystallise and not melt.

cream-car-suagr-and-water.jpg

When you are sure the sugar has dissolved ( your spoon will “feel” any gritty bits of sugar) then you can turn up the heat.

DO NOT STIR FROM THIS POINT ON!

It would make the sugar turn back into gritty crystals.

Here’s where you need to have your wits about you… one minute your in a world of your own, just staring at the white sugar and water bubbling away – the next instant it seems, it has turned into golden toffee that threatens to turn into burnt toffee if you don’t get it off the heat immediately!

Don’t be scared – just watch carefully. The colour changes – see? The smell changes. I will let you know that it’s best to take it off the heat just before you think it’s ready. The toffee just keeps cooking and getting darker right up until the point it hits the cold cake tin!

cream-car-toffee-going-into-mould.jpg

If you muck up, don’t worry. Boil the jug, soak the pan, and start again. You’ll know what to look out for next time.

You can use a sugar thermometer like this one:

cream-car-thermoimeter.jpg

It takes some of the guess work out of it, but you still need to be confident and fast when it’s ready.

Whip it off the stove – be careful, it’s like molten lava! and tip it into your mould. Swirl it up the sides a bit and set the mould aside.

cream-car-toffee-in-tinjpg.jpg

See how the toffee has cooked and darkened more in the short time btween taking it off the heat and getting it into the pan?

Making the custard is a walk in the park after the toffee 😉

Combine your milk and cream in a jug and heat it in the microwave. Just until it’s hot enough to dissolve the sugar in the bowl. You can do it on the stove, in a pan if you prefer ( I hate washing milk pans )

Whisk everything up in a bowl…

That’s it. You can use a blender or food processor if you want.

Some recipes do call for the milk to be slowly heated before it’s added to the eggs and sugar, and I would most definitely suggest this if you were wanting to infuse the milk with flavour. For example, if you were using orange rind or a vanilla pod. The you would very slowly heat the milk and cream up with the rind or the pod, and let it sit for a little while to extract all the flavour from your goodies.

I am a lazy girl, yes I know, but one step I never omit is straining the custard before it goes over the toffee. See how much stringy egg white you catch in the strainer?

cream-car-egg-abd-sugar.jpg                                              cream-car-adding-milk.jpg

   cream-car-sieve.jpg                            

Anyway, straining from the bowl to the jug helps with the pouring  into the mould.

Have a baking dish or a roasting pan ready. It needs to be big enough for your mould, with room to spare. Place a folded tea-towel on the base. It stops the mould slipping about, and protects the base from too fierce a heat.

Meanwhile you are boiling a kettle full of water.

Put your mould with the toffee in it in the baking dish and put it on the oven shelf. Have the shelf sticking out. Tip in the custard over the top of the toffee.

Get the kettle of boiling water and CAREFULLY fill the baking dish until the water reaches half-way up the side of your mould. Be careful not to splash any water into the mould with the cream caramel in it.

cream-car-water-bath.jpg

Gently slide the oven shelf in and walk away for 1 HOUR.

You can test the custard with a knife if you’re worried. Stick the knife straight down into the centre of the custard. It will be very soft, but it won’t be liquid. If it is, no problem, cook it for another 10-15 minutes and test again.

Look at my photo. I tested it with my finger, you can see the mark. I just gently “pushed” at the surface to see if it was set.

cream-car-cooked.jpg

When the custard is cooked, it will still be wobbly. Cool to room temperature, and then cover, and put into the fridge. Overnight is ideal, 6-8 hours is fine. It will firm up.

When it comes time to unmould the dessert, just put the mould in a sink with a couple of inches of hot water in it for 30 seconds. Take it out, run a knife or spatula around the edges, put the platter over the top, turn the whole lot over quickly and , voila! Out she comes!

cream-car-serve-platter.jpg

BTW – the little black seeds in the custard? Vanilla pod seeds…

Now, something that annoys me and puzzles me is all the hard toffee that remains in the bottom of the mould. It is so frustrating! But there is nothing you can do about it. You could crack the toffee out and decorate the dessert with the shards I guess, but I was using one of my non-stick pans and didn’t want to hack at it with a knife. Just one of those things you have to accept I guess…

cream-car-stuck-toffee.jpg

I served the cream caramel with baked apples stuffed with raisins, walnuts, brown sugar and spice.

cream-car-apples.jpg

Let me know how you get on. I’d love to know if you try it.

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13 thoughts on “Cream Caramel ooh la la!

  1. Good morning from KL, dear sweetrosie 😀

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe – my husband loved Creme Caramel but I don’t know how to cook it for him. But with your detailed explanation, many pictures and helpful tips, I will be able to serve homemade Creme Caramel to my family – they will be so excited!

    I have a few queries –

    1) what is the temperature for the oven in degrees Celcius?

    2) can I use just milk only, or it would be best to have cream, too?

    3) what type of apples did you use and how long did you bake them in the oven? I thought I would try this out, too as they look so scrumptious and interesting.

    I really enjoy your lovely recipes! 😀

    Happy New Year 2008!

    Have a wonderful, happy day,

    choesf 😀

  2. Thank you ovenhaven! Happy New Year to you too. I hope it is a happy and prosperous one for you 🙂

    Hi choesf 🙂 Thank you for your kind words, I’m glad you are going to give the recipe a try.
    The oven would need to be at 180C.
    Yes, you can use all milk and omit the cream. Of course it won’t be as rich, but it will still work. You might like to try adding some evaporated (not condensed) milk in place of some of your milk for a richer result without the cream.
    I used Granny Smiths for those baked apples. You just need an apple that doesn’t fall apart quickly when you cook it. You can use Jonathons too, but sometimes they are a bit small.
    Have a lovely day dear choesf 🙂 x

  3. Thank you, dear sweetrosie 😀 Now, I will be able to make this dessert and surprise my husband! 😉

    Cheers!

    choesf 😀

  4. Creme caramel is my most favourite dessert – you’re a woman after my own heart making it in a cake tin rather than the tiny individual ones generally seen in cookbooks!

    I have a recipe using powdered milk that gives a really thick texture that I love but the coconut milk one you refer to sound brilliant.

  5. I mention this only in reference to those of us who can’t always wait for the perfect texture to develop on cooling…but did you know that if you eat it while still warm, it is the most delectable comfort food? Of course I mean the little individual ones (mind, that’s only because it has never occurred to me to tuck into a whole one!) and so you can’t over end them, just eat them straight from the ramkin.

    Oh yum, oh bliss, oh joy……

  6. hi beyondbluestockings ( & I am VERY intrigued by the name) You are quite right 🙂 Out of the ramekin is as good as on the plate! I love the notion of comfort food. The generic word for all that sort of food in our house is “goody”. I think we picked it up from “Angela’s Ashes”…
    I think you should have a whole creme caramel this very weekend – it will be good for you 🙂
    Thanks again for visiting.
    sweetrosie

  7. “Goody”? yes, I have just read that term in a book called, “A light in the window”, about Ireland in the 50’s. Goody was milk soaked in tea, to feed the babies, in that account of life in a home for single mothers.

    Mmmm, a whole creme caramel this weekend? That has to be the sweetest advice I’ve had in a long while! I’m happy to comply .)

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