Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Crème Caramel

Crème caramel is a classic French dessert and one that I rarely make. I don't know why because it's pretty easy and always good. I was watching some old Julia Child DVDs with Jacques Pépin* and they did creamy desserts, including this one. I was inspired.

The caramel is poured into the bottom of four ramekins.

First I made a caramel. Some sugar and water (and a little cream of tartar and salt) boiled on the stove until it began to color. When the color got to where I wanted it, I poured the caramel into four ramekins to cool.

Next, it was on to the custard. This one was made with five eggs plus one yolk, a mixture of milk and cream, some sugar, and vanilla. The trick here is to put the hot milk into the egg mixture slowly so as not to cook the eggs, stirring all the time. Then the mixture went into the ramekins on top of the caramel and into a water bath in the oven.

The custard is cooked! Actually, it started to get too much color, a sign of an oven that's too hot.

When the custard was set, out they came. It took a lot less time that Jacques said it would, so I think the oven was too hot at 180ºC (350ºF). Next time I'll bake it at a lower temperature. After the cooked custard cooled, I turned one of them out onto a plate.

And dessert is served! A little messy, but presentable. And delicious!

About half of the caramel stayed behind in the ramekin, so I put the ramekin into the microwave for a few seconds to soften the caramel, added a few drops of water and stirred, then poured the caramel over the custard. Boy, was it good.

But on Monday, when I had a second, all the caramel had softened and came out just beautifully on top of the custard. I guess I had the first one just too soon. Live and learn!

* No, Jacques and I were not hanging out watching DVDs. He was with Julia.


  1. Quand le chat n'est pas là, les souris dansent! Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Recipe, please, with proportions. A little of this, a little of that sounds much too French!

  2. One of my favorite desert and easy to make. Isn't it unusual to have a thunder storm in March?

  3. I'm going to make this as soon as I'm off my diet. I have the perfect little iron skillet to make the carmel in.

    Is the recipe in one of Julia's cook books?

  4. Reminds me of a delicious, very unique, dessert I had a while back. Some sort of butterscotch custard/pudding on the bottom of the cup with a skimmer of salty sort of brown sugar on the top. Really excellent....a salty and sugary delight!

  5. Yet again, I'm having my morning coffee, staring at some fabulous food. These look beautiful!

    Non-cooker that I am, I did not know that caramel was sugar and water. I might be able to handle that.

  6. Mmmm....so simple yet so classy, one of my favourite puddings.

  7. Your version looks tender and delicious. It's one of our favorite desserts.

  8. In Jacques Pépin's "Fast Food My Way" there's an interesting recipe for Asparagus Custards. I can email it to you if you're interested.

  9. Walt, we recently bought the film "Julie and Julia" on DVD, about the blogger who decided to do all of her recipes from her famous book in a year. It was most enjoyable.

  10. Hello Jean, I haven't seen that film but would love to. I read the book.

  11. Hi Ken, we will bring it and lend it to you. I'm sure you would enjoy it. She seems like just the kind of character I would like to meet. Mrs non-average.

  12. Crème Caramel is very much like flan by a different name.

  13. Wonderful! I bought a small blowtorch to make creme bulee. I'll have to try this!

  14. chm, ok! Lightly beat 5 eggs and 1 egg yolk with 1/3 cup of sugar. In a saucepan, heat 2 cups milk, 1 cup half-and-half, and 1 tsp vanilla until it boils. Remove from heat and let cool a little. Add the milk to the eggs a little at a time, whisking constantly. Strain the mixture and pour it into the caramel-lined ramekins. Bake at 325ºF in a water bath until the custard is cooked. Cool for 4 hours. Turn out onto a plate and enjoy! And yes, I'd like that recipe you mentioned!

    nadege, I think it's unusual, but a mass of cold air came in on our warm air and boom!

    evelyn, It's in the Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home book.

    alewis, that sounds interesting!

    digoenes, it's really easy. You should have a go.

    jean, very good.

    carolyn, it came out well.

    juli, and it was!

    starman, very similar, but I think the custard is a tad lighter than a flan.

    writer, I've never had the blowtorch for brulée!

  15. If you don't have a specific kitchen torch, those small gas containers with a noozle for burning garden weeds (at bricoman) can not only start your webber fires quickly but brown the tops of the dessert you made.
    They look perfectly done! I think the flan version is the best!
    We served these in our restaurant just as you did in the last photo.
    Tim in Arthenay

  16. I have been reading your blog for quite a while but never wrote a comment, I just enjoy everything you write and your pictures. I like your pictures of the Forêt de Choussy a lot, it will be even nicer in the spring in these woods. Pecans – we have plenty here in Georgia, the paper shell ones are the best. I also liked the look of your Australian fruit cake. I never had fruit cake in France and did not care for it much when I moved to the US. But in San Francisco a lady in the office was from Kentucky and she gave me her Bourbon fruit cake recipe. You placed the cherries and raisin in bourbon for a couple of hours. Well, friends came, then the next day we went out, and so on for the rest of the week. I kept adding bourbon every night and when I finally made the cake you could really taste the Bourbon. Served very cold, in thin slices, it is quite tasty. Today for lunch I had a custard cup for dessert but it’s not like une crème renversée au caramel. My mother made the best ones – I can still taste them. And a well made crème caramel does not taste like flan at all, flan has more of a floury taste I think, c’est un peu plus épais dans la bouche, cela n’a pas la même fluidité et légèreté, je trouve. (don’t know how to translate it right.)

  17. OMG! I can't believe I missed this post.. Did it taste like the Mexican flan?? Looks like it - SOOO DELISH!!!

  18. Oh.. I just read the recipe and it sounds like flan to me... YUM!! Soo creamy and rich!


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