Crème caramel, a distant cousin of the crème brûlée, is a smooth, decadent custard-based dessert. The good news is that it really isn’t as tricky to make at home as you may think it is. Here’s how it’s done.
The science of crème caramel lies in the fact that, unlike most custard-based dishes, it contains both egg yolks and egg whites. Egg yolks are made up of fat, protein and about 50% water. The fat in the yolk gives desserts like crème brûlée and crème caramel their creamy and smooth texture.
However, if we tried to make crème caramel with yolks alone it would not set, because the mixture wouldn’t contain enough protein and water. This is why we need the egg whites. Egg whites are made up of 80% water. They contain no fat and slightly more protein than egg yolks, giving them wonderful thickening power. Adding egg whites to the crème caramels ensures that they will set beautifully, so we can turn our little custard beauties out of their moulds to serve.
Keeping all of that in mind, let’s start making our caramels.
For the caramel
6 tbsp water
For the custard
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
30g caster sugar
600ml soya milk
You will also need:
6 x 200ml pudding moulds
A roasting dish for baking
A stainless steel saucepan for making the caramel
1. Preheat the oven to 150℃.
TIP: Heat the pudding moulds in the oven while you’re make the caramel. This will make it easier to spread the caramel and also prevent crystallization.
2. Heat the sugar and water over medium heat, stirring (with a wooden spoon) until all the sugar has dissolved. Boil without stirring until the mixture turns a light copper colour.
TIP: At this point, immediately put the bottom of the pan into a sink full of lukewarm water. This will stop the caramelization and prevent burning.
3. Quickly pour the caramel into the bottom of the pudding moulds and set aside to cool at room temperature.
4. Once the caramel has hardened, butter the sides of the pudding moulds so the pudding doesn’t stick.
5. Gently warm the milk in a saucepan over the stove. It must be warm, but not boiling or too hot to dip your finger in. (The temperature here is key, so be careful).
6. Whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar together in a bowl.
7. Once the milk is warm, pour it into the egg mixture and whisk until smooth. Then pour your mixture into the prepared moulds.
8. Place the moulds in a roasting dish and carefully fill the dish halfway with boiling water.
9. Bake the caramels for about 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
TIP: They will still be quite ‘wobbly’, but don’t be tempted to leave them in for too long as this may result in sweet scrambled egg.
10. Cool the crème caramels in the fridge for at least an hour, preferably overnight. This will allow the custard to absorb the caramel flavour, and for the caramel to steal water from the custard and soften.
11. Gently loosen the sides of the custard with a palette knife, and turn upside down onto a dessert plate to serve.
And that’s about it, friends. Your pudding is ready to be eaten.
Crème caramel is great for summer days, as it is a cold pudding and can be served with delicious summer berries. Enjoy.