January 17th, 2008

The Ultimate Crème Caramel Recipe
(with photographs of the process)

Coco&Me - The Ultimate Crème Caramel Recipe (with photographs of the process)(It’s the most creamiest, & yet most delicate Crème Caramel I’ve ever tasted in my life!)

Coco&Me - The Ultimate Crème Caramel Recipe(I didn’t have molds that were all the same, so I used my collection of Japanese tea cups instead! – The two illustrated ones are from my childhood. And the one with the writing is a soba (buckwheat noodle) sauce dish that my parents brought over from Japan over 25 years ago!)

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Since my last post:

I’ve been naughty of late. My sweet tooth never stops craving, it’s just terrible. My nearby convenience store’s got a “buy two tubs for a fiver” deal for big tubs of Häagen-Dazs (Praline & Cookie’s n’ Cream’s my favourite – what’s yours?). And I’ve been tucking in to them with a big tablespoon (no dilly-dallying with a wee teaspoon I say!), late at night, wrapped up in my blanket, fireplace on, surfing the web endlessly with the other hand, quite meaninglessly whiling away my time, browsing from a web link to another link…

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But, now that the cheap ice cream deal is over…, I decided I must start making my own desserts again that I can stick my sweet tooth in to!

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So, here is the ULTIMATE recipe for Crème Caramel that I have been indulging in lately.
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I call it ‘Ultimate’ because, I can honestly say it really is the most creamiest, & yet most delicate Crème Caramel I’ve ever tasted in my life! Every luscious spoon sends blissful melt-down of your surroundings, & before you know it, it’s gone… – & you curse yourself for not making more… Yup, ladies & gents, it’s THAT good.
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It is dead-easy to make too if you follow certain steps. Crème Caramel in basic terms is literally just a three-step method: mix, sieve & water bath, with the most simplest of ingredients (eggs, sugar, milk & cream optional). The most important trick to keep in mind is to try NOT TO incorporate AIR, as the final silky texture will suffer greatly.
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In this special recipe, I did not use any egg-whites, as per normal Crème Caramel recipes. It relies on just egg-yolks to set the liquids. This is what makes this that extra rich & thick in flavour, yet delicate, as well as the softest you’ll ever ever taste. Despite no egg-whites, it keeps its shape very well, so long as you refrigerate it for a good 4 hours.
(Note: Although, if you’re using a very big mold, it maybe better to look for a recipe that uses whole eggs &/or gelatine that will help to hold its shape better.)

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Please keep in mind the quantity of ingredients listed below makes roughly 6 to 8 individual Crème Caramels. It’s all dependent on the size of your chosen molds. The best way to know how many this quantity will make is to measure 700ml of water & fill the molds to see how many it fills.

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THE ULTIMATE CREME CARAMEL RECIPE

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Ingredients
For Caramel:

40 cc Water
80g Sugar
20cc Water

For the Crème:

250cc Double cream
250cc Milk
4 x Egg yolks
60g Sugar (granulated or castor)
A few drops of Vanilla essence OR half a vanilla pod, split length way

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Prepare this before you begin:

  • Make sure your eggs are at room temperature, as cold egg won’t mix well with the milk.
  • Butter inside the individual molds so that the Creme Caramel de-molds smoothly.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees.

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METHOD:
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First make the caramel.

  • 1. First stir the sugar & 40cc of water to a syrup in a small thick bottomed pan. Then cook on medium heat so that the whole base of the pan is equally heated. During this time do not stir too much.
  • 2. Once it starts to colour, stir with a wooden spoon. The colour will start to darken – & once you reach ‘a step or two before’ your desired darkness, take it off the heat & SLOWLY pour & stir in the 20cc of water to stop it colouring any further.
  • 3. Immediately pour the caramel in to your molds before it becomes too thick to handle.
  • 4. Make sure the bottom is completely covered by tilting the mold around.

Caramel Tip:
– Never let the caramel darken too much, it’ll taste too bitter. The caramel suddenly turns
from sugar liquid to dark & bitter in a split second, so I advise you take it off the heat (in step 2) while it is slightly lighter still. It’ll darken ultra-quickly while you’re stirring more water in to it anyway.
– Never leave it cooking alone. It is dangerously hot.
– Never ever pour the water in to it in one go. It is highly dangerous as it will foam up like mad & increase in volume & splutter.

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Next, make the Crème:

  • 5. Heat the milk & the double cream in a pan – (with half a vanilla pod if you’re using it instead of vanilla essence).

Tip: Here, never let it reach the boil. Or more precisely, never let it go over 60 degrees as the milk will form a skin on the surface. – At 60 degrees the protein coagulates when exposed to air. So skimming & throwing away this skin means you are throwing away the delicious proteins & fat molecules.

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  • 6. While the milk mixture is heating, GENTLY whisk the egg yolks in a mixing bowl.
  • 7. Then mix in the sugar GENTLY.

Tip:
– Always mix the sugar into the eggs straight away. Don’t leave the sugar lying around with the egg as the sugar will absorb moisture from your egg & leave dry gravelly bits.
– Always stir the sugar in SLOWLY. Do it as if you’re cutting it up, rather than whisking it, as if you’re scraping the sugar against the bowl. Crème Caramel is a dish that purely uses the solidifying power of the egg as it heats, so the finer you ‘cut’ the egg yolk up, & incorporate it in to the mixture, the better the overall texture.
– DO NOT INCORPORATE AIR whilst mixing. This is the most vital trick to make your final Creme Caramel smooth.

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  • 8. Pour & mix the hot milk/ cream liquid in to your egg bowl. Add vanilla essence if you are using it instead of vanilla pod.

Tip: Pour in a small amount first & mix, & then pour some more. Let the egg mixture get used to the hot liquid little by little. Never pour the hot liquid in to it in one go. You have to be cautious as eggs solidify at 60-70 degrees, although the sugar should act as a good blanket.

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  • 9. Lay a few layers of kitchen paper or a cloth inside a roasting pan, & place your molds.
  • 10. Use a sieve & slowly pour the mixture in to the molds.
  • 11. Remove air bubbles by tapping mold lightly on your work-table, &/ or by spoon. Lightly dabbing the bubble with kitchen towel also works well.
  • 12. Lid each mold tightly with aluminium foil.

Tip:
– Laying some kitchen paper stops directly heating your Crème Caramel from the bottom.
– The temperature of the Crème mixture should still be warm (if it is cold, it’ll take longer to bake in the oven).
– Sieving the Crème mixture gets rid of air bubbles, aswell as the chalaza (the ropey strands of egg white).
– Lidding the molds with foil prevents the top surface from drying under direct oven heat.

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  • 13. Boil lots of water in the kettle. And pop the roasting pan with the prepared molds in to the pre-heated oven. Keep the door ajar to pour the hot water in the pan, half to two-thirds up.

Tip: It’s best to pour the hot water in to your water-bath when the pan is already on the oven shelf. This way, it is less likely for the water to accidentally make way in to your molds while transfering from work-table to oven.

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  • 14. Bake for 20 minutes at 160 degrees, & then 10 minutes at 170 degrees without the lid. After the baking time, remove from the oven. Check if baked thoroughly by gently shaking it sideways. If it wobbles too much & creases form in the middle, put it back in the oven for another 3 minutes & check again (crease form when the sides are cooked, but not the middle). ‘Bouncy’ & ‘springy’ wobble is cooked.
  • 15. Take it out of the water bath, & leave aside to cool. Once cool, refrigerate for a good 4 hours before serving so that it sets fully.
  • 16. To demold, run the edge of the knife around the rim. Place inverted plate on it. Hold both mold & plate firmly together, then flip it so that the mold is on top. Gently shake up & down. It should smoothly come out. Let the caramel sauce pool around the set Crème.
  • Bon Appétit!

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Coco&Me - The Ultimate Crème Caramel Recipe - with photos of process
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Suggestions on alternative flavours:
You can ‘flavour’ the milk at step 5 with ‘coffee’ & ‘tea’.
You can also use honey instead of sugar too.
Or why not add brandy or rum? Or what about green tea, or chocolate flavour?

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33 Comments »

  1. Ohhhhhhh, I so want your teacup collection…

    Custard-making is my last great unconquered kitchen fear (probably because I once tried to make one when I was a lot younger, and ended up with hot milk, scrambled eggs and floods of tears) but you know, you’ve inspired me to give it another go! I’m intrigued by the idea of green tea as a flavouring – would you recommend using matcha for that, or could I just steep some genmaicha in the milk?

    Comment by Rachel - January 17, 2008 10:57 pm

  2. ;-)
    Green Tea: I think any type is possible, but I had Matcha in mind when I wrote it, what with it’s pure intense tea flavour. But I’m loving the idea of genmaicha too!
    Rachel, don’t fear! Fear is there to be conquered! AND I’m sure you’ll make a much better one this time round!

    Comment by tamami - January 17, 2008 11:22 pm

  3. I always pick the Pralines and cream and Cookies and cream too. We had that offer here just before Christmas and I just finished my stash last night!

    I love your eclectic mix of creme caramels. The step by steps are as helpful as ever.

    Comment by Laura - January 21, 2008 11:16 pm

  4. I love your recipes, Tamami – they’re always so useful and love your little tips and explanations :) I’m going to try and make this as soon as I figure out how the oven in my home in HK works (we’ve never even turned it on before!) and find some measuring cups… gosh, no wonder I never bake anything here!

    Comment by Charmaine - January 22, 2008 9:35 am

  5. Konnichiwa- :o)
    Thanks for the Valentine tip the other day.
    I really want to try something different for this year so… I’m still deciding on what to make.
    I tried making the above mentioned “Ultimate Creme Caramel”.
    It was just heavenly! Thank you for sharing your recipe with us all :o)

    Comment by Yu - January 22, 2008 12:21 pm

  6. Hey Laura, jeez, our similarity-list grows longer & longer, it’s starting to get wierd! (you’re not a Taurus aswell r u?) You are obviously much more restrained than I am with those ice cream tubs though, if it takes you a month to finish ‘em! I must learn from you… ;-)
    Creme caramel front – I initially wondered wether to get same design ramekins/ molds, & went to a upmarket kitchen store, but it was sooooo expensive, (like a fiver each – by the time you want a set, we’re talking 30 quid!) I changed my mind.
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    And hello Charmaine, r u enjoying yr HK trip? I can’t believe a food-lover like yourelf has not given yr HK oven a good driving!
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    HI YU! Y’know, when I was looking in the kitchen store for molds, I nearly bought the Le Creuset heart mold/ ramekin to use for this recipe. Possibly a Valentine dessert?? – I’m happy that you have tried this recipe & that it came out well! Thank you.

    Comment by tamami - January 22, 2008 7:11 pm

  7. Oooh, that looks good. I like your suggestion of green tea or chocolate. I think I’d like either of those flavors. :)

    Comment by Lori - January 23, 2008 3:44 am

  8. Thanx Lori! If you’re making the Green Tea version, it maybe nicer to omit the caramel & bake it without. – Once de-molded on to a plate, you can pour some delicious green tea syrup. The very dark green would enhance the light green of your Crème!
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    ‘GREEN TEA SYRUP’ recipe:
    sugar… 30g
    water… 2 tablespoon
    matcha powder… 1 teaspoon
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    1. use a bit of water to matcha powder & mix, so that it is in liquid format.
    2. Boil sugar & water to syrup.
    3. Add 2 to 1. Mix. Cool. Pour.

    Comment by tamami - January 23, 2008 10:51 am

  9. I finally tried it out, and you’re right – it’s the most amazing, creamy pudding ever! I’m going to have to try the green tea version soon…

    Also, what do you do with all your spare egg whites? If I had all the right equipment with me I’d make macarons again, but right now they’re just going into my dinner for an egg white sauce.. XD

    Comment by Charmaine - January 25, 2008 9:47 am

  10. Charmaine! Wow! You made it? I’m glad you liked it! – Egg white-wise, shame on me, I should be freezing them (I hear people freeze it in ice-cube trays) but instead I just throw it away… :-(

    I once made a scrambled egg out of it, but was not impressed much. – I always “want” to do something with it like make meringues or marshmellows, but truth be told, once I’ve made the dessert I intended to make in the first place, I’m not domestic-goddess enough to wanna go make another one…!

    Comment by tamami - January 25, 2008 10:40 am

  11. That’s so true – I make so much of a mess each time I don’t think I’d have the energy to wash everything up and do it all a second time!
    I’ve tried your recipe again and this time included the egg whites… we’ll see how it turns out (going to eat it tonight :D).

    Comment by Charmaine - January 26, 2008 6:25 am

  12. Totally ditto about not having energy to wash everything up & doing it 2nd time round! -Let me know how you got on with the +egg-white version! Very curious!

    Comment by tamami - January 26, 2008 11:52 am

  13. Hello! I came across your blog and fell so in love with it that I have sat and read through all your posts (in reverse) and have just come to this one. I saw the flavours you suggested for the creme and I just wanted to tell you that back home (Kenyan coast), creme caramel is actually one of our traditional desserts (we are a bit of a hodge podge culture and I have NO idea how a french dessert has ended up being a Swahili tradition but there you go…….) We flavour it with cardammon. We grind up the seeds very finely and allow them to steep in the milk, heat it up together, and it all comes out when you sieve it. We also use cardammon to flavour our cakes. :)

    I look forward to finishing the rest of your blog!

    x

    Comment by Mina - May 28, 2009 12:42 pm

  14. Hello Mina, thank you for liking my blog! Very sweet. Cardamom! wow, very interesting to know. I wonder how much of it you put in? – Anyway, thank you once again for trading my blog! xx

    Comment by tamami - May 31, 2009 10:18 pm

  15. Hi Tamami! It’s me again from Indonesia…
    I should be training on how to properly fold Lemon Drizzle cake batter…. But the almost expired cream have to be used…. and I always want to eat a decent creme caramel(which I haven’t found yet in here, and i hate to wait until the next time I go to Taiwan to eat a decent creme caramel) That’s why I decided now is the perfect time to try make creme caramel(btw I bookmarked this recipe for months, and always discouraged because it’s involving tempering egg)…
    I have to thank you to share this beautiful recipe, since the result is so blissful! It’s like finding salvation!

    After my failure in Lemon drizzle cake now follow your instruction carefully, I put an oven thermometer, I preheat the oven for 30++minutes(I’m kinda slow…), but i have to admit that I use 300cc cream+ 200cc milk(I have 300cc of almost expired cream… It’s a pity to throw out 50cc cream), and the result is… the creamiest creme caramel I ever eat, it’s even better than the best creme caramel I ate in Taiwan(once a year). But i have to admit that the vanilla is too faint due to my scatter brain, I forgotten to steep the vanilla, so the vanilla pod is steeped in less than 3 minutes(next time I’ll cold steep the vanilla in the milk over night).

    Thank you again for sharing this recipe with us! And sorry for the long (+ weird english) message.
    xoxo

    Comment by Joy - December 29, 2009 2:40 pm

  16. Joy,
    Yayyyyyy! Hooorahhh!! Yesssss!! Thank you for leaving a fantastic recipe review. I’m so glad you liked it – I really think it is the creamiest creme caramel too. I haven’t made this in ages – now reaing your review, I’m itching to make one too – maybe for New Year’s Eve party tomorrow?! Off to supermarket tonight then!! xx

    Comment by tamami - December 30, 2009 3:14 pm

  17. Hi !
    The recipe looks grate and I am definitely gonna try it. Unfortunately where I live they don’t sell double cream (There is only cooking cream and whipping cream and neither exceed 25 % of milk fat and I read that for double cream you need at least 40 %) I once tried doing t with cooking cream 20 % fat and it didn’t end well believe me :( )
    Anyway this time I am gonna try with milk only and I hope this works. Wish me luck ! Gonna tell you the results ^^

    Comment by Hiratana - February 5, 2010 9:25 am

  18. Hello Hiratana! Oh no! You can’t get double cream where you are from?? Hm… maybe better to get a recipe that doesn’t involve it? Well, tell me the results if you try!! Good luck!! xx

    Comment by tamami - February 6, 2010 1:32 am

  19. Hi
    Sorry it took me so long to write you back (I actually did the recipe the same day I wrote you ^^)
    It was amazing ! It became just purfect !
    I was very careful not to let any air in (although I had no idea how to do that …I just guessed and did a lot of straining ) and it became just soo good ! No air bubbles at all, perfect flavour and texture ! Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe ! I’ll be sure to try many others and write you. Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo , but next time I will and I’ll send you one (If you don’t mind ^^) Thanks again Tamami !

    Comment by Hiratana - February 8, 2010 8:27 am

  20. Hello Hiratana! So did you try it with just milk, no cream then? – I’m so happy you liked the recipe!! Thank you for reporting back.

    Comment by tamami - February 8, 2010 12:39 pm

  21. Hi !

    I tried your ultime creme caramellast weekend and was absolutely delighted by the result.
    I thought you might be interested in the Team Wholegrain recipe-making competition; the prize for the best recipe is a fabulous weekend trip for two to Lesley Waters’ cooking school in Dorset.

    The details of the competition are as follows:
    1. Create a recipe including a whole grain cereal from Nestle. Options include Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Shreddies and Oats & More. A full list can be found at the Team Whole Grain website at http://www.wholegrain.co.uk.
    2. Write up the recipe and email it to teamwholegrain@mslworldwide.com.
    3. The deadline for entering the competition is the 31st of July.

    We really hope you enter! Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions

    Olivia

    Comment by Olivia - July 13, 2010 2:41 pm

  22. Hello Olivia!
    I’ve sent you email!

    Comment by tamami - July 13, 2010 3:35 pm

  23. i was very yummmy although mine curled?reason i did not reheat the milk and the cream. i wisked while at room temperature.

    Comment by johnbosco - September 29, 2010 1:53 pm

  24. Hello Johnbosco, I’m glad you liked the taste!! I think next time, have a go at heating the milk+cream, & then if it still curdles, let me know!! All the best, t x

    Comment by tamami - September 29, 2010 11:53 pm

  25. Hi , i have tried ur recipe, but had difficulty to take out from ramekin. I did run the edge with knife but still it ends the surface become not smooth .

    Comment by Kat - March 4, 2012 8:28 am

  26. Hi Kat! Oh noooo…., sorry to hear it didn’t work out… Did you butter inside the ramekin beforehand?

    Comment by tamami - March 4, 2012 9:24 am

  27. I didnt butter the ramekin… Should i butter and put flour also ? thanks for reply

    Comment by Kat - March 4, 2012 12:09 pm

  28. Hi Kat, no butter & flour. Also, use just the pointy bit of the knife to just loosen the top-most edges of the cream to demold…, it should slip out…! Good luck & happy baking!! xx

    Comment by tamami - March 4, 2012 3:50 pm

  29. [...] My deepest regret is the air bubbles from the whisking, which are visually distracting and discounted the silky texture of the custard. Do check out this website and recipe with lots of tips on removing air bubbles, demoulding the ramekins etc. This blogger is really THE expert on crème caramel: http://www.cocoandme.com/2008/01/17/the-ultimate-creme-caramel-recipe-with-photographs-of-the-proces… [...]

    Pingback by Step-By-Step: Crème Caramel | tummytroll - May 2, 2012 11:01 pm

  30. Hi. I tried your recipe. It’s really creamy and delicious. My husband loves creme caramel. But my custard is too soft. The taste is there but when I unmould it, the custard just falls apart into pieces. What do you think went wrong. I did follow all your instructions. Except I use normal cream instead of double cream. Is that why? Thanks

    Comment by Vivian - August 22, 2012 10:44 am

  31. Vivian, I’m so sorry to hear that the custard fell apart to pieces… – Like you say, it might be the choice of cream you’ve used. – Also, I once used a pyrex ovenproof glass dish, & I had the same thing happen! – Please retry with double cream though & let me know how it goes! All the best, t x

    Comment by Tamami - August 22, 2012 2:11 pm

  32. Its so creamy n easy. I uses 5 egg yolk instead cos the egg was smaller.
    Good recipes

    Comment by Erica - March 31, 2013 12:56 pm

  33. Hello Erica! Thank you very much for leaving a positive feedback on this recipe! Hmm, you’ve reminded me, I haven’t made this one in ages…! x

    Comment by tamami - April 8, 2013 1:33 pm

 

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