So this was a midnight experiment...I have no idea why I was inspired at such an odd hour to make my first creme caramel. I stayed up until 2AM so I could take some pictures once it set and then ate a piece of this delicious thing and tried to get to sleep while fighting the sugar high. Needless to say, I am tired this morning but it is Friday so I should survive.
I watched Laura Calder from French Food at Home make this dessert the other night on FoodTV and thought I just had to try it. My result was very good for a first go. Next time, I think I will use a deeper pan and perhaps regular organic sugar as mine didn't caramelize to the rich, dark colour I hoped for. I used organic Demerara sugar which has a great flavour but perhaps is too crystallized to caramelize properly. I don't really know though.
Ingredients & Preparation: [From FOOD TV, Laura Calder: French Food at Home (episode Classic Bistro Desserts)]
Serves 6-8 people
- 1 cup sugar (for the topping)
- 2 cups fresh whole milk
- 1 x vanilla bean (or vanilla extract if no beans available)
- 6 x free-range eggs
- 1/2 cup sugar
- pinch nutmeg
Heat the oven to 325°F. Bring a full kettle of water to the boil, and turn off the heat (this is for the water bath later).
Dissolve the sugar for the topping in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water, and boil until it turns a dark, fragrant, liquid caramel. Pour into the cake tin and swirl to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside.
Pour the milk into the same saucepan, so that it laps up the caramel on the bottom and sides (this is the most brilliant trick for flavour!) Split the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the milk, and add the pod. Heat to the boiling point, turn off the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the nutmeg. Once the milk has infused, whisk it into the egg mixture.
Strain the custard over the hardened caramel and set the pan in a larger dish or roasting pan. Pour the boiled water into the bottom pan to come half-way up the sides of the flan. Transfer to the oven and bake until set, 45 minutes to an hour.
Remove the flan from the oven and from the water bath. Run a knife around the outside edge to loosen the flan. Cool completely – even chill, if you like. To serve, flip the flan onto a plate, pour over any caramel remaining in the pan. Serve in wedges.
Cook's notes: Use a very sharp knife around the edges. I learned the hard way and didn't have a smooth finish around the edges. Also, the straining step is key so you don't get bubbles in the custard. And ensure your dish that you flip the creme caramel on to is big enough and has a slight rim or you'll have a mess on your hands.