Creme Caramel

Also known as caramel custard or flan in Spanish-influenced countries, creme caramel is simply a custard dessert with a liquid caramel sauce on top. I have seen versions with more egg yolks than eggs, heavy cream or even sweetened condensed milk in addition to milk, and variations, including dulce de leche, for the caramel sauce. The best plan is to experiment for yourself, but this slightly altered recipe from Penelope Casas’ The Foods & Wines of Spain makes a creamy custard with a concentrated caramel sauce.

Cover the bottom of a large skillet with a thin layer of sugar and place on medium heat. Move the pan around when the sugar starts to melt to even out cooking; do not stir (it will cause crystals to form). If brown spots begin to appear, continue to move pan around. You can also gently swirl the pan after all is melted. Immediately pour a small amount in six porcelain ramekins, and then swirl each dish to cover the bottom as well as possible. You will have to work fast before the caramel hardens. Set aside.

Make a custard by beating together 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 6 tablespoons of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla, and 2 1/2 cups of half and half. Pour an equal amount into each prepared ramekin. Preheat oven to 350. Cover the bottom of a large roasting pan with water and boil. Turn off heat, and place ramekins carefully in the hot water. Place roasting pan in oven and bake for about 25 minutes. When shaken, the custard should be just set in the middle.

Remove each ramekin carefully with tongs, and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. You can serve at this point or refrigerate, covered, for several days. To serve, run a knife around the inside of a ramekin, place a plate on top, and invert. This needs to be done quickly to keep all of the liquid sauce on the plate.

Truc (Tip): Half and half is half whole milk and half heavy cream.

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