This delicious recipe for crème caramel comes from the cook book In the French Kitchen with Kids: Easy, Everyday Dishes for the Whole Family to Make and Enjoy by Mardi Michels of popular blog eat.live.travel.write In her first book, Mardi shows that French food doesn’t have to be complicated. The result is an elegant, approachable cookbook featuring recipes tailored for young chefs and their families, like this turns-out-perfect every time crème caramel recipe.
Serves 6; Prep time: 20 minutes
Bake time: 45 to 55 minutes Chilling time: 4 hours to overnight
FOR THE CARAMEL
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar 2 tablespoons water
FOR THE CUSTARD
3 large egg yolks 2 large eggs
1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 mL) 2% milk
1 cup (250 mL) heavy (35%) cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Six 1/2-cup (125 mL) ramekins
This is another French classic that made the rounds of the adult dinner party circuit when I was growing up. I still remember my mum making this and me thinking it was SO exotic—caramel placed on the bottom of a ramekin that flowed down over the custard when it was flipped out onto a plate? Magical! And this dessert couldn’t be simpler. Even young bakers should be able to manage most of this on their own, apart from making the caramel and using the stovetop.
Make the caramel:
Place the sugar and water in a pot and swirl them around gently with your finger or a chopstick to make sure the water is absorbed. Place the pot over medium-high heat. Do not stir.
Once the sugar has melted and is liquid, cook for 4 to 5 minutes, swirling the pan occasionally, but never stirring, until the caramel is a deep golden colour. If sugar goes up the side of the pan when you are swirling, use a pastry brush dipped in water to clean the sides of the pot.
Pour the caramel directly into the ramekins, swirling to evenly coat the
bottom of each one. Place the ramekins in a deep-sided baking dish or roasting pan, and place this on the countertop close to the oven.
Make the custard:
Preheat the oven to 300˚F (150˚C). Fill a kettle with water and bring it to a boil.
In a large, heatproof bowl, using handheld electric beaters, beat the egg yolks, eggs and sugar on high speed until pale and starting to thicken slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Place the bowl on a damp cloth or paper towels to hold it in place later when you are whisking one-handed.
Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat the milk and cream over medium-high heat. Bring this to a simmer (do not boil) and immediately remove from the heat.
Slowly pour about one-quarter of the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so you don’t scramble your eggs! Once this is completely combined, add the rest of the hot cream and the vanilla, whisking constantly.
Pour the custard into a large jug (this makes it easier for kids to pour the mixture into the small ramekins).
Pour the mixture into the ramekins. Pour the boiling water from the kettle into the baking dish, being careful not to get any water in the custard, until it’s about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This is called baking in a bain-marie and it cooks the custard gently.
Carefully place the baking dish in the oven and bake for 45 to 55 minutes. The outside of the custard should be cooked but the centre of the custards might still be a little jiggly.
Remove the dish from the oven and, using rubber-tipped tongs or a flat spatula, remove the ramekins from the boiling water. Place them on a wire rack to come to room temperature.
Cover each ramekin in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight (these will keep for a day or so in the fridge).
When you are ready to serve, remove the ramekins from the fridge and, one by one, place each one in a dish of lukewarm water for a minute or so.
Run the blade of a small knife around the edge of the custard, place a small plate on top of each ramekin and, holding tight, flip the plate. The custard should fall easily onto the plate but if not, you can shake the plate vertically until you hear it drop.
If you’re making this with kids:
Though this recipe does involve caramel-making that will need to be supervised by an adult, there is still plenty for younger children to do here. Teach younger cooks how to separate egg yolks from the whites. Have them catch the cracked egg in one hand and let the white seep through their fingers into a bowl so that they end up with just the yolk (it might take a bit of practice so make sure you have a few extra eggs on hand). Whisking sugar and egg yolks together is a good activity to keep little hands busy, as is pouring the mixture into the ramekins. Once the custards have cooked and cooled, the flipping process is absolutely kid-friendly—especially if you demonstrate one first. If they are cooked properly, the custards should easily flip so the caramel is on top.
More delicious deserts from France
Nonettes – a speciality of Burgundy and utterly delectable
Apple tart like maman used to make by Daniel Galmiche
Chocolate macarons by Pierre Hermé of Paris
Pain perdu – a French classic that’s truly easy to make, and truly delicious