This creme caramel recipe goes together quickly and is truly one of the least fussy French dessert recipes you are likely to find. All you need is four ingredients to make this baked custard: milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla.
In France these days, you can buy creme caramel in the grocery store. But why do that when it is so easy to prepare at home? You probably already have on hand the ingredients to make this creme caramel recipe. The only inconvenient
thing is that you really do have to make it ahead of time. The custard has to completely cool before will be able to remove it smoothly from the dish in which it cooks.
This recipe calls for cooking the creme caramel in individual baking dishes called ramekins. Ramekins are fun. You can even serve your creme caramel in the ramekins if you have really pretty ones you want to show off. Your eaters will be pleasantly surprised to find the caramel at the bottom.
To make a richer version of creme caramel, just substitute some whipping cream for part of the milk. 1 cup of whipping cream for 2 cups of milk will make the recipe considerably richer.
You could also make this recipe with a vanilla bean. Split the bean horizontally and use a sharp knife to scrape out the seeds. Place the seeds and the emptied bean into the boiled milk and allow it to infuse for at least 10 minutes. Strain the milk before whisking it into the eggs.
To make the caramel, place 2/3 cup of sugar in a small saucepan and wet with just enough water to dissolve it (about 1 tablespoon). Heat on medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, but don't stir. The syrup will boil for a while until it starts to turn brown. Once it has turned brown, remove it from the heat and immediately pour the caramel into 6 ramekins.
In another saucepan, heat the milk with the other 2/3 cup sugar until it reaches a boil. Stir in vanilla. In a sturdy bowl, whisk the eggs for a minute or two. Whisk in the hot milk, slowly at first to avoid coagulating the eggs. Whisk to completely mix.
Pour (or ladle if that works better for you) the milk mixture into the ramekins on top of the caramel. Place all 6 ramekins in a large oven proof dish. Fill the dish with water to about 2/3 the height of the ramekins.
Carefully place in 300° F oven. Bake for 40 minutes to an hour (baking time can depend on the dishes used). The water should not boil during baking. The custard is done when it has set, which you can verify by inserting a knife.
Allow the custard to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate in their ramekins until serving time.
To serve, run a knife along the outside of each creme, than turn over onto a dessert plate.