I have been making this recipe for over 20 years and it always produces a beautifully high crème caramel with a deep mahogany gloss that sits in a puddle of caramel sauce. Refreshingly cool and light in summer, it can be surrounded with a whimsical garland of fresh mixed berries and sprigs of mint. In winter, try encircling it with a wreath of sugar-frosted cranberries.
La Crème Caramel Parfaite Serves 8
Special Equipment Medium saucepan: 8-inch soufflé baking dish; roasting pan or baking dish
1 3⁄4 cups (350 g) sugar, divided
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg whites, room temperature
4 cups (960 ml) whole milk, room temperature
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
✽ Preheat oven to 300° F (150 ° C).
Perfect Crème Caramel Caramel Sauce
✽ In the saucepan, heat 1 cup (200 g) sugar over medium-low heat. Once the sugar begins to liquefy, stir continuously until smooth and totally melted. Stop stirring and allow the mixture to bubble around the edges, just come to a boil, and turn dark amber. Remove from the heat, and, being very careful not to burn yourself with spattering hot sugar, pour the syrup into the soufflé dish. Swirl it around and tilt to coat the sides of the dish as well. Allow the hot syrup to harden into a beautiful clear amber coating.
✽ Place the eggs and egg whites into a large bowl and whisk well to combine. Add the milk, remaining sugar, salt, and vanilla and whisk well.
✽ Pour hot water into the roasting pan, place the soufflé dish in the centre, pour in the custard all the way to the top, and place the roasting pan on the middle shelf of the oven. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes, until brown around the edges and still wiggly in the centre.
✽ Remove from the oven, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight. Place a dish over the top of the soufflé dish and invert to unmould, allowing all the caramel sauce to drip out onto the serving dish around the crème caramel.Ideas and substitutions
✽ Slice into wedges and serve with whipped cream spiked with Grand Marnier for a special treat.
Photograph by Steven Rothfeld from French Comfort Food by Hillary Davis originally published in FrenchEntrée Magazine.