Crème Caramel, also identified by various names like Caramel Custard, Custard Pudding, Egg Pudding, flan, milk flan etc. is one of most popular and ubiquitous dessert that can be found on any restaurant menu.
It can easily be stated as one of those classic desserts that had a western origin but has now spread throughout the globe. You can find its presence in India from heritage Irani cafes to upscale restaurants. This smooth as a silk dessert may look intimidating but on the contrary is one of the easiest desserts to make at home. Not only does it feature on restaurant menus but it is also one of commonly made dessert recipes by housewives at home. Though you can experiment with the recipe and have fanciful additions like cinnamon, cardamom, pistachios etc. to enhance the flavor but to me the vanilla flavor works best every time. It has so far stood the test of time and while its popularity had diminished a bit for some time with Crème Brulee- another French classic dessert- taking the Indian food scene by storm. It was just a matter of time and it came back again on the popularity charts. Crème Brulee, made of cream and sugar, is a richer cousin of Crème Caramel which can get heavy on your palate while crème caramel stays absolutely light on palate.
One of the other differences between crème caramel and crème Brulee is in usage of eggs. While the Custard calls in for whole eggs, Brulee requires only egg yolks. Egg yolks are made of fat and protein and helps custard in attaining a soft and creamy consistency. Whereas, egg whites are protein and water which helps in setting of custard to the right texture.
It fits in so very nicely with our Indian taste buds. Our desserts are mostly made of milk and sugar and Crème Caramel is nothing but these two ingredients with some eggs added in the pudding mixture and steamed in a Idli steamer or baked in a convection oven. Traditionally the authentic way of making Crème Caramel requires a setup known as bain-marie (hot water bath). If ramekins filled with Caramel Custard are placed directly inside the oven, eggs may get curdled and the final dessert may turn rubbery and cracked. Bain-marie ensures the heat remains moist and the top of the custard does not burn while the inside gets cooked. In short, bain-marie is the key element that separates a terrific tasting Custard from a terrible one.
I have also experimented with making custard in a Idli steamer and I have realized it makes equally soft and moist Custard compared to the traditional way. Crème Caramel also calls for making a sugar syrup to the caramel consistency and is poured in the mold first. In few mins, this layer of caramel solidifies and then the custard mixture is poured on top. This is then cooked using one of the methods described above till it attains beautiful, soft and quivery consistency. It must be refrigerated for few hours (4-5 hours) at least and is served chilled. It is demolded and served upside down with liquid caramel flowing down the inverted custard.
Make this gorgeous and absolutely delicious, soft and creamy dessert for your family and I am pretty sure it will fetch you some rave reviews from them. Share your feedback with us in comment section below.
- 1.5 Cups=375ml Full Fat Milk
- 3 Eggs
- 200 gms Sugar (3/4th Cup+2 tbsp)-For Caramel
- 125 gms (1/2 Cup) Sugar-For Custard
- ½ tsp Vanilla essence
- 1 tbsp Water
- We will start with the custard mixture. In a large bowl, crack open the eggs. Add Sugar (125 gms). Add Vanilla essence and mix well. Mix for couple of minutes.
- We have mixed the eggs and the mixture has become pale yellow in color. Sugar has dissolved as well. Now add lukewarm milk. Ensure Milk is not too hot. Add Milk and whisk the mixture.
- Custard mixture is now ready. It looks light and foamy. Pass this mixture through a strainer. It is very important to remove the air bubbles to get the smooth texture of Custard.
- I am going to use these Porcelain Ramekins for baking custards. You can also use Silicone cupcake molds. There is no need to grease porcelain and silicone moulds. However, if you use aluminum tins, then you may have to grease it with butter.
- Put a pan on heat and add 200 gms Sugar in it. Add 1-tbsp water and melt Sugar on low-medium heat. We will keep stirring the Sugar to facilitate the heat distribution. During this process, Sugar will melt and then turn into crystals after it loses its moisture. Keep stirring on low-medium heat.
- Caramel has attained golden brown color and is now ready to be removed from heat. Put this Caramel in the moulds. Put melted Caramel (1-2 tbsp) in moulds and spread it evenly. Ensure you do this quickly else caramel will turn into solid mass.
- We will leave caramel in moulds for 10 mins to form a thick solid layer. Pour custard into these moulds. At times, you may hear a cracking sound from the caramel layer. This is normal and you can easily ignore it.
- Cover the moulds with aluminum foil. We are going to follow 2 methods to make Caramel Custards- in a steamer/pressure cooker and Convection Oven. We will bake in Convection Oven at 160°C.
- We have pre-heated at 160°C and put a low rack and a baking tray in Oven. We will make a hot water bath. Fill this baking tray with hot water until it's ¾th Capacity. When we place the moulds in tray it must reach till its ½-3/4 from outside.
- Place 3 custard moulds in this tray. Ensure you always wear Oven safe gloves.
- a) Mode: Convection b) Temperature: 160°C c) Time: 35 minutes d) Press Start
- In second method, we are using a Idli-Steamer for cooking. Boil water on high heat. When it begins to boil, reduce heat and lower the steamer plate in it. Place two moulds on this plate and cook on low heat covered for 25 minutes.
- You can also use a pressure cooker for this step. Ensure you remove its whistle, if you are using pressure cooker. Cook for 25 mins.
- Caramel Custards are now ready. Cool it down completely to room temperature. After it comes down to room temperature, we will refrigerate the molds.
- Refrigerate for 4-6 hours and then we will unmold the custards.
- We have removed the molds from refrigerator after 6 hours and it is well set now.
- Using your fingers pull the custard gently inside. It should leave the sides. You can also use a knife for this step to loosen the sides. Place the serving plate on the mold and reverse it. Gently tap.
- Caramel Custard is now ready to be served. Here's a lovely caramel custard for the sweet beginning of this new year
Click to watch recipe video