Tuesday, November 28, 2006

creme au caramel of my heart

Though I mainly try to concentrate on cooking healthy foods, every once in awhile, I enjoy a nice creamy dessert. This French version of flan is called Creme Au Caramel and is both decadent, but surprisingly easy to make.

As Nigella Lawson discusses, the airy creaminess is abetted by a hot water bath. This is simpler than it sounds, trust me.

Creme Au Caramel

1 c whole milk
1 c heavy whipping cream
4 eggs
1 cup of white sugar divided into 1/2 cups
vanilla bean or vanilla extract (1 t)
pinch of salt

shallow baking pan
six medium sized ramekins

Pre-heat oven to 325 F

Boil water in a kettle or electric kettle.

In a heavy bottom pan melt 1/2 c of sugar and swirl pan until the sugar has turned to a gold brown carmel color and dispense between the ramekins evenly trying to coat the bottoms. Don't worry if doesn't completely cover the whole surface since it will melt during the baking anyway.

If using the vanilla bean, slice and scrape the seeds into a saucepan with the whole milk and cream. Otherwise bring mixture to a near boil. Watch for tiny bubbles that emerge at the edges of the cream and milk mixture.

In another bowl break open the eggs and mix thoroughly. When the cream mixture is ready pour gradually into the bowl while mixing. Then, add 1/2 c of sugar to the mixture and 1 t of the vanilla extract (if not using the vanilla bean) and the pinch of salt.

Place ramekins in the shallow baking pan and fill with egg custard mixture. Then, place the entire pan into the oven and then add the boiling water so that it covers the ramekins at half their height.

Check ramekins after 15-20 minutes with a knife. When the knife comes out clean remove and let cool to room temperature. Can be served either at room temperature or chilled.

For some reasons these creamy delights taste better the next day chilled to me.

Oh yes, and use a butter knife to loosen the creme au caramel and upend on a plate. Be careful of the caramel sauce!

Bon appetit!

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