lundi 12 février 2007

Créme Caramel

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we think about flowers and sweet treats. This year why not make your sweetheart a popular French dessert, Crème renversée au caramel, more commonly known as Crème Caramel.

Crème Caramel is a simple to make egg custard baked in a ramekin with caramel in the bottom. The caramel melts during baking turns into syrup over the custard when turned out onto a plate.

Crème Caramel is not be confused with Crème Brûlée which is a richer custard made with cream and is covered with a hard caramel graze.

Crème Caramel
Makes 8 servings

200 mL (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
50 mL (1/4 cup) water

5 large eggs
125 mL (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
750 mL (3 cups) milk (whole or 2%)
3 mL (3/4 tsp) vanilla

Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF).

Place sugar in small heavy saucepan and drizzle water evenly over the top. Place the pan on medium heat; gently swirl the liquid to form a clear syrup (remove the pan from heat as necessary to avoid boiling before syrup is formed). Increase the heat to high and bring to a rolling boil; cover the pan tightly and boil for two minutes. Remove the lid and cook the syrup until it begins to darken. Gently swirling the pan, cook until the syrup until it turns a deep amber colour. Quickly (but very carefully to avoid burning your skin with the hot syrup) pour the caramel into eight ramekins. Using a potholder, immediately tilt the ramekins to spread the caramel over the bottom and halfway up the sides.

Whisk eggs, sugar and salt until just blended. Heat milk until just steaming. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture and stir gently until the sugar dissolves. Strain the mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl with a pouring lip. Stir in vanilla. Pour into the caramel-lined ramekins.

Bake in a bain-marie (pan filled with water to half way up the sides of the ramekins) until firmly set in the centre about 40 to 60 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Unmold by briefly dipping the ramekins into hot water then running a knife around the edges, and inverting onto individual plates deep enough to catch all the caramel syrup.

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