Crème CaramelThis has to be one of my most favorite recipes. It is a classic European dessert. The taste is sublime and real cream caramels are rarely made nowadays. It is a very simple recipe but does require attention to ensure that it is cooked to perfection. A perfect cream caramel should wobble on the plate even when very cold and don't even think of cooking it until it is thoroughly set in the center. You will be extremely disappointed. Also if you are going to make this, don't substitute 1% milk and nonfat condensed milk. For the real taste you have to accept the real calories. Oh, but what heaven it is to eat.
The cool, creamy, velvety, slightly sweet custard envelops your tongue while the almost bitter caramel adds the perfect contrast to your taste buds as it slides down. If my 14 year old can demand it for Christmas while my husband wants a genuine English trifle, it must be something special. To make it even more special, pour some Grand Marnier, Brandy or Kahlua onto the caramel on the serving plate. Have a fabulous time with your family and friends and enjoy the season with a genuine White Christmas. Take care and God Bless.
Makes 4 c of custard which can be cooked as 1 × 5-6 c glass dish or 8 × ¾c ramekins, custard cups or cocotte dishes. These sizes give you extra empty space for safety in moving filled dishes. Note that the custard will not increase in volume with cooking.
Caramel½c white sugar mixed with 2 tbsp water
1. Choose a 1 qt saucepan that is not dark lined inside. Use either a glass pan or a stainless steel pan so you can see the caramel changing color.
2. Slowly dissolve the sugar in the water, bring to the boil and boil it steadily without stirring until sugar turns a deep golden brown color without looking or smelling burnt - about 5 minutes boiling. Be careful since sugar burns are extremely painful. You need a really dark golden brown (but not burnt) color for flavor otherwise the custard will be insipid.
3. Once sugar has formed a caramel pour into desired dishes/dishes and leave to set - a few minutes. If you want to make individual portions, I found if you kept the glass dishes in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, then the caramel didn't set hard in some dishes while you were swirling it around other individual custard dishes. Pour water into empty caramel encased saucepan and caramel will dissolve easily without effort.
2. Preheat oven to 325°. Stand dish containing custard in a 9" × 13" lasagna dish or equivalent. Place in oven and then pour in enough hot water into large pan to come halfway up the side of the custard dish/s. Cook one large custard for about one hour or 6 individual ramekins for about 35 minutes. A knife inserted in middle should come out with custard sticking to it, not just a wet liquid. The custard should still wobble as it sets further as it cools. The temperature on an instant read thermometer should be 160° to protect against salmonella. Don't overcook, it will taste like India rubber.
3. Refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days, and then turn onto a serving plate that has been moistened in center so you can reposition custard if necessary. Try and use a plate with a rim to contain liquid caramel. The longer the caramel is left in the fridge before serving the more the solid caramel will dissolve to a syrup.
Oonagh Williams, proprietor of Royal Temptations, has a Culinary Arts degree, is a qualified teacher and offers a Personal Chef and Catering Service. She can be seen frequently on WMUR ABC's Channel 9 Cooks Corner. Contact Oonagh on 424-6412 or visit her web site at Geocities.com/CookingWithOonagh.