This is a classic old-school dessert that I love. The only way to make it taste fantastic is with the best milk and, of course, the best eggs. There are a few things to be aware of before you start making the caramel. You will be boiling sugar, and hot sugar will give you a very nasty burn if you get it on your skin, so wear an apron and oven gloves, and make sure there are no pets or small children around.
- 215g castor sugar
- 100ml water
- 2 large free-range or organic
- eggs, plus 4 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla pod, cut lengthways and seeds removed
- 500ml organic full-cream milk
Preheat your oven to 170ºC.
To make the caramel, put 100g of the sugar and the water in a heavy-bottomed pot and place it on the heat. Bring the water to the boil and make sure all the sugar dissolves, but try not to shake the pan or stir the liquid too much.
Have 4 x 125ml dariole moulds (or ramekins) standing by in an empty roasting tray, so that when the caramel’s ready you can tip it in straight away. The syrup will turn golden after a few minutes and soon after that it will darken and end up chestnut-brown. Working quickly, very carefully tip the caramel into the moulds, making sure that there’s an equal amount in each one, coating the base and some of the side before it hardens. Let your caramel pan cool down – and don’t be tempted to taste it with your finger or your tongue, as you will burn yourself!
Put the whole eggs, egg yolks, remaining sugar, vanilla pod and seeds in a bowl and stir gently to mix. Heat the milk in a saucepan until it is just hot enough to dip your finger in, and pour onto the egg mixture, stirring well. Strain the mixture into a jug, then fill up the caramel-lined moulds evenly to just below the rim. Gently pour hot water into the roasting tray until the water outside the moulds is almost level with the mixture inside.
Carefully place the whole tray uncovered in the preheated oven and bake for about 40 – 50 minutes, until set. Lift the tray carefully out of the oven and scoop out some of the water with a ladle until you can lift the moulds out. Allow the crème caramels to cool completely and chill in the fridge before serving.
To serve, run the blade of a small palette knife round the edge of each crème caramel and quickly and carefully dip the base into boiling water. Hold a dessert plate over the top of each mould, then turn over and the mould should pull off with a plop.