Sunday, April 17, 2011

Creme Caramel, Flan

I love crème caramel and there are more recipes online than you can count or that you could ever make. If you look at the recipes, they are long, convoluted, involve straining and transferring to and from vessels and seem daunting at the very least. No worries, you need not look any further. This is the recipe you need, the recipe you want. It makes four; it doesn’t take a dozen eggs, hours to make or special equipment of any kind. You can double it easily if you feel the need for 8.

I use a microwave to make the caramel and to scald the milk. Shove it in the oven after a few easy steps and you end up with the perfect crème caramel. I have been making this for years. It worked brilliantly when I lived alone, when I was a couple and then when I turned into a family.

There are a few preliminary, preparatory steps to take, they’re easy and you can do them with a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine, in your hand.

Boil a kettle of water, we will need the water for the water bath the custard will bake in.

Find a casserole dish that will hold 4 ramekins and set it on the counter, with the ramekins inside.


½ cup sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 cup milk

1 egg

1Tbsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp vanilla

For the caramel
Put ½ cup sugar in a 2 cup (Pyrex) measuring cup with 2 Tbsp water.

Microwave on high for 3-3 1/2 minutes. As microwave power varies, you want to cook the sugar until the water boils off and the sugar turns a lovely pale, caramel color. If you use the clear glass cup, you can easily see as the color changes. It happens quickly so no dawdling or talking on the phone. Stand with your cup of coffee and watch it.

Remove it carefully, it’ll burn you badly, and divide it evenly between the ramekins.


Here's the beauty shots in the microwave, 2 mins, 3 mins and 3 mins 45 seconds.  You really have to just stand there and wait until it's the color you like.  It'll go from perfect to burnt in no time so keep an eye on it.



Pour into the dry ramekins, evening.  If you are feeling brave then gently rotate the caramel around the sides but remember, this stuff will burn through you to the bone in a split second so unless you're brave, don't.

Scald 1 cup of milk; I scald it in the microwave. Scalding merely means to bring the milk to slightly below the boiling point. I’ll be honest, I have no idea what the scalding actually does to the milk but I’ve been scalding it forever so that’s what we will do. You should see small bubbles around the edge of the milk with the slightest wisp of steam from the top. In my microwave, it takes exactly 90 seconds.

In a bowl combine the egg, sugar, salt and vanilla. I cheated and added a yolk today because I felt like something a little richer but my "recipe" uses a single extra large egg  Slowly add the scalded milk and divide the mixture evening between the ramekins.  I whisked a little vigorously today, you really shouldn't have the bubbles, oh well, it'll still be delicious.


Add the recently boiled water to a level half way up the sides of the ramekins and bake in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, until the custard is just set. If it barely jiggles and if you slip a very tiny knife into it, it should come out clean.

Carefully remove the ramekins from the casserole dish and chill in the refrigerator, it might take up to 2 hours.

Turn the crème caramel out onto a plate or eat it straight from the ramekin. Cover them when they are cool and eat at will. There’s only the 4 so you won’t waste any, didn’t invest any real working time and it total cost was a little bit of sugar, 1 cup of milk and 1 egg. It’s impressive to make for company and it’s a lovely thing to make for yourself, or your family. As well, it’s a pretty sweet dessert for virtually nothing.


Put in the fridge and let it cool.  When it's cold throughout, run a knife around the edge and invert it on a plate, the caramel will run all over the place and the custard will be just firm and soft at the same time.  It can be cut and barely stays together.  Make it, you'll be happy.



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