Crème Caramel; probably one of the first few desserts I made when I just started baking. I still remember burning my fingers with the caramel and then suffered a massive blister for the next few consecutive days. It's French, but I don't think I've ever seen it in Paris. I suppose the people there would much rather prefer the more classic flan as oppose to this. I know the Vietnamese love it, and that's only natural because it's delicious! I myself prefer this (waterbath-ed custard of a flan) much more to the (semi-cooked then baked pastry cream) kind of flan.
What's absolutely delightful about this Crème Caramel is its texture! It's so soft and so ridiculously (in the best way possible) smooth on your palate. It jiggles the way a panna cotta does and who doesn't love a wobbly pudding? It only means it's a good pudding! It isn't overly sweet either. In fact the custard itself has hardly any sugar in it. And then you have it spoonfuls at a time with some of that gorgeous liquid gold (i.e caramel) and they complement each other just beautifully.
The flavours you obtain from caramel can be quite tricky.
Too blond and it's too sweet. Too dark, and it's bitter and burnt as hell.
But when you get it just right, you have such complexity of flavours that's not toothachingly sweet. That's what makes this pudding stand out because it's one of those few dessert where you actually get the full caramel flavour in its most natural form. Just slightly thinned down from all that liquid. The caramel is the star of this pudding so it's quite imperative that it's done well.
It would be great if you guys baked them in small baking dishes that are made of pyrex glass which can go into the oven. Or even in glass bottles (that can withstand oven heat) if you don't want to do the finicky job of unmolding them after but just have it right out of the jar.
Reason why I say this is because if you overcook your Crème Caramels, they form these ugly ugly little bubbles that are just everywhere. It looks really gross and unappetizing to be honest, I get goosebumps just seeing them all over the surface of what is suppose to be a smooth one! So if you bake them in dishes where its see through, it would be loads easier for you to monitor those bubbles. Sometimes they might not feel like they're done (because they're quite jiggly) but they are and those bubbles will tell you if you're over-baking them or not. I remember I over-baked a batch of Maple Puddings when I first joined Antoinette. And then I got it long, hard and good from Chef Pang and I never over-baked them ever again. We all learn from our mistakes, hey.
Ahhh it's so smooth you could rub it all over your face as a mask. But please don't do it, save this gorgeous wobbly thing for your bellies. It's much more worth it.
I found some lovely baby's breath at the market today and I just couldn't resist taking a small bouquet home! Love fresh flowers, always make the home feel so much more wonderful and cozy.
Dessert for everyone on this fine Sunday! It's the perfect treat before Monday comes again.
But do hang in there! With some Crème Caramel and a few more weeks to go, it'll be the holidays and the happiest time of the year.
(makes 5 small oven-proof dishes)
For the Caramel:
sugar - 100g
water - 20g
For the Pudding:
milk - 270g
maple syrup - 66g
eggs - 150g
For the Caramel:
Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and heat over high heat. Do not stir the mixture while it is boiling or it will crystallize. Use a wet pastry brush to brush down any sugar crystal hanging on the sides of the saucepan. Heat till it's a dark amber colour and pour into your prepared molds. You don't need a lot as it is sweet, so just enough to coat the base of your molds.
Set aside in the fridge for 1 - 2 minutes for it to harden.
// Note: Be careful as you do this as the caramel is extremely hot. //
For the Pudding:
Prepare your oven to 160C.
Place the milk in a saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk your maple syrup and eggs together. When your milk is hot and you can see some steam, take it off the heat and temper it into your egg mixture while whisking continuously. Strain out the mixture and divide it equally between the 5 molds.
If there are any bubbles on the surface, use a blowtorch to remove them.
Cling wrap them individually and place them onto a baking tray of at least 2 inches high. Pour boiling water into the baking tray till it comes 2/3 up the sides of your molds. Place an aluminium foil on top of the baking tray and gently slide it into the oven. Baking for 45 minutes, or more depending on your oven.
It should jiggle quite a bit when it's ready. Set around the edges but wobbly in the centre.
Remove them from the oven and place it onto a clean tray to cool, leaving the cling wrap on. This prevents a skin from forming. Leave it to cool till room temperature then place it into the fridge for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.