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French Crème Caramel

I was scared to make this classic French Crème Caramel for many years after my arrival in France. Instead, I sat back and let my French mother-in-law make her delectable family-sized version each time we visited them in their pretty Provençal village of Saignon.  Back in Paris, I’d order it hands down each time it was on the dessert menu in brasseries,  bistros or cafés.

Somehow that pristine dark caramel reflecting our wide, greedy eyes looked so perfect yet was so light that I thought it was a no-go to make. French Crème Caramel seemed so simple but it was totally out of my comfort zone.

French Crème Caramel

French Crème Caramel – a classic favourite!

Growing up in Scotland, we made ours using a green-boxed packet mix: my job was to squeeze out each sachet of caramel into each dish and excitingly, the whole thing worked just beautifully. Many years on, I cringe at packet mixes but then it’s an entirely different era; now we prefer to make dishes from scratch – as we know exactly what’s in it, can lower sugar levels and add our own creative twists.

This classic French dessert can easily take on many twists – as the likes of teas, herbs, and floral infusions work well while infusing in the milk.  I’ve made this with jasmine tea, Earl Grey tea and fresh or dried lemon verbena (incidentally, have you tried this lemon verbena ice cream?).  They’re all fantastic – but I keep referring back to the good old classic vanilla.  There’s something so nostalgic about it, isn’t there? Fresh berries or exotic fruits on the side are enough for me. Simple yet effective.

Over the years, I prefer this version, as I’ve experimented making Crème Caramel with cream, milk and cream, milk and eggs but in the end, this is by far my favourite: just with milk but the addition of 3 egg yolks gives it that creamy melt-in-the-mouth feel, keeping it light.

French crème caramel recipe

Not long after launching this blog, I was fortunate to have my Japanese friend, Nami, from Just One Cookbook guest post before she hit super stardom.  Here is her recipe for Japanese Purin, a no-bake version using gelatine.

This French Crème Caramel recipe below does look long and complicated but I’ve given detailed recipe steps to explain how easy it is.  Et voilà !

5 from 2 votes
French Crème Caramel
French Crème Caramel
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
1 hr 10 mins
 

An easy, step by step recipe for the classic French Crème Caramel. No cream but made with egg yolks for a light, melt-in-the-mouth perfect end to any meal.

Course: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 306 kcal
Author: Jill Colonna
Ingredients
Caramel:
  • 100 g / 3.5oz sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
Custard Cream:
  • 500 ml / 17 fl oz milk (whole milk)
  • pinch vanilla powder (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 medium eggs (organic)
  • 3 egg yolks (organic)
  • 70 g / 2.5oz sugar
Instructions
Make the caramel:
  1. Put the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Over a low heat, stir using a wooden spoon until the sugar has completely disappeared or dissolved. Turn up to a low-medium heat and leave the caramel to form without stirring. This should take about 10 minutes (PLEASE don't multitask and leave the pan - keep your eye on it). Wait until the caramel is medium to dark brown - not light otherwise it will just be too sweet. (Don't leave it to go too dark, either, otherwise it will be bitter!)

  2. Pour the caramel into 4 ramekin dishes, ensuring that it coats completely the base.  Set aside to cool so that the caramel sets and immediately put the saucepan in the sink and soak in water, making it easier to clean later.

Make the custard cream:
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/150°C fan/Gas 3.  Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, adding the vanilla and just allow the milk to heat to simmering point (not boiling). Take off the heat.

  2. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in a large bowl. Pour in the hot milk and whisk constantly. Put the ramekins into a roasting tin and pour in the custard mix over the caramel. Place in the oven and pour in warm water into the roasting tin so that it comes to about 2/3 of the way up the ramekins.

  3. Bake for about 40 minutes or until set (they're not cooked properly if there's a dip in the middle). Remove from the oven carefully, and gradually remove the ramekins onto a cooling rack. When cool, transfer to the fridge and chill for at least 2 hours - or overnight.

  4. To serve, slice through a cross in the middle of each ramekin with a thin sharp knife and loosen the creams by running the knife also around the sides.  Turn upside down directly on to the serving plates.  Or just serve them directly in their ramekins, as many Parisian brasseries do! Best served at room temperature.

Recipe Notes

Serve with fresh berries or slices of exotic fruits, depending on the season.

Tip: To release the crème caramels from their ramekins, my Dad explained "as an engineer" that it was easier to slice a cross through the middle.  Since then, I've always used this method, and find there's no need to grease the ramekins. However, if you prefer to grease them with butter, do so just before pouring in the custard.

 

Jill Colonna

MadAboutMacarons.com

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Have you made any of the recipes from le blog (from my books, too) or fancy making this classic French Crème Caramel?  Please do leave a comment below or take a picture and hashtag it #MadAboutMacarons.  I love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook. Thanks so much for popping in!

 

French Poppies: A Macaron Impression

Think of French poppies and often Claude Monet’s impressionist painting comes to mind, n’est-ce pas?

Monet painted Camille and Jean strolling amongst the poppies near Argenteuil – not far from where we live.  I couldn’t stop thinking about Monet’s impression of the poppy field as we took a drive to the country recently. En route, poppies were out in all their glory – fields upon fields – to say bonjour.

There was this urge to make French poppy macarons as soon as I got back home.  I had found an intense poppy essence (arôme coquelicot), which was like tasting pure bonbons as a child.

As the poppy flavour was so sweet – and it’s still the rhubarb season – I added a touch of rhubarb compôte.  A classic is to pair poppy with strawberry, but the rhubarb just gave that tiny touch of tartness that brought out all the memories of poppy coquelicot sweeties.

Some poppy macarons with a touch of rhubarb

As you can understand, I’m not allowed to publish my macaron recipes on the site.  So, to make the filling, grab a copy of the book and use the recipe for orange blossom macarons on p.77.  Simply replace 5 tbsps orange flower water with rhubarb compôte and use 1 tsp of the poppy extract and follow the rest of the recipe as in the book.

french poppy macarons by the Seine by Jill @ Mad About Macarons

 

And what better way to eat them?  Sitting in a poppy field with Parisian poppy macarons in a basket, served with a chilled bottle of fizz: fizzy water – or what about Macaron Prosecco?

There’s perhaps some things missing:  the easel, paints and Monet’s pipe.  Let the dream live on: wear a panama hat. That way we can take our hats off to all Dads out there and wish you all a very Happy Fathers’ Day on Sunday.

Cheers to your good health!


Egg Yolk Recipe Series

I am so proud to welcome my talented guest, Nami from Just One Cookbook.  Just in case you missed it, see what she has prepared for us, using 4 egg yolks: a gorgeous recipe for Crème Caramel, or Japanese Purin.   This has to be the best crème caramel I’ve ever seen.  Thank you Nami for sharing this with us!

Visit to Pain de Sucre Pâtisserie in Paris with ParisPâtisseries

Join us on our mad macaron adventure at Pain de Sucre Pâtisserie in Paris.  I recently went with Adam Wayda of Paris Patisseries fame, to watch them making macarons using their new macaron-making machine.  Please don’t forget that this is on a large scale (about 2000 macarons a day) and don’t let that put you off making them yourselves at home.  Remember, they are a lot easier than you think!

Pain de Sucre making macarons Part I

Pain de Sucre making macarons Part II

I’m so inspired by Adam’s photography and so many of my blogger friends’ photos, I’m trying to work on enlarging my own just now, as they are all too small on the site (you’re right, Thoma ;-)).  This last photo is blown up but have no idea how it will look on your screens (possibly too big?)  By next week, I’ll have it sussed – I hope.

Bonne semaine and macaron making!

Guest Recipe: Crème Caramel (Purin)

This has been a LONG week. I’m such a party-pooper since cancelled my trip to Provence this weekend en famille for my mother-in-law’s (belle maman) 70th Birthday Party. Just the thought of the TGV train and car trips back and forward is trop – too much.  The back/sacrum has played up so much that, if I sit longer than 30 minutes a stretch, I turn into a chair – just like that!

Just like that – my good friend, Nami (Namiko), author of her blog, Just One Cookbook, came to the rescue with the most perfect and best crème caramel recipe I’ve ever seen. I should say Purin recipe, as Nami is Japanese and lives with her husband (who is her blog assistant – what a team!) and gorgeous children in San Francisco.

For those of you who know Nami, I’m sure you will agree:  she not only has an amazing blog with perfect Japanese recipes and stunning presentations, but she is also one of the most genuine and sincere people I know. When you receive a comment from Nami, you can’t help feeling the need to leap out the screen and hug her for offering such encouragement.

I’m sure many of you know what I mean.  Blogging is fun but it’s also time-consuming: often when you post something into the great empty void of the w-w-web, there is nothing that can beat an adorable comment to prove that someone has not only read it, but actually liked it!  It’s what keeps the essential motivation going.

The other motivation is seeing a recipe like this to lure us into the kitchen. So let me hand you over to Nami with her gorgeous Purin recipe.  It uses up 4 lovely egg yolks…

Nami, Just One Cookbook

Hello everyone!  I’m Nami from Just One Cookbook.  I was so thrilled and delighted when Jill asked me to be her guest blogger.  I am a big fan of Jill’s beautiful macarons and love visiting her website to see what new macaron recipe she’s come up with.  Personally I don’t bake or make desserts too often but I definitely have a sweet tooth and I am also a recovering chocoholic.

As part of the “using up your egg yolk” series, I want to share a recipe for Crème Caramel and as you might have guessed it does not require an oven.  In Japan we call it Purin (it came from Pudding) and it’s definitely one of the most popular desserts.  We can buy very good-quality Crème Caramel from neighborhood convenient stores or fancy pastry shops.  My husband really loves Purin and today I’m sharing the recipe my husband said it’s the best ever.

Thank you Jill for having me over.  Cheers!

Crème Caramel (Purin)

Difficulty: Easy

Cooking Time: <45 minutes (excluding chill time)

Makes 8 servings

Ingredients:

10 g gelatin

4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup)* water

Caramel Sauce

140 g (2/3 cup) granulated sugar

4 Tbsp. (1/4 cup) water

8 Tbsp. (1/2 cup) boiling water

4 egg yolks

80 g (1/3 cup) sugar

400 ml (3/4 cup) milk

8 Tbsp. (1/2 cup) heavy whipping cream

2 tsp. vanilla

* I also added measurement in US measuring cup in parentheses, but I highly recommend using a food scale to follow this recipe precisely.

Directions:

1. In a small bowl, combine gelatin and water and set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, combine sugar and water.  Caramelize the mixture on medium heat.  Shake the pan once in a while but you don’t need to stir with spoon.  Patiently wait until it turns into a nice caramelized color.

3. When you see nice (dark) golden caramelized color, immediately pour ½ cup of boiling water because it will quickly get darker and darker (resulting in bitter taste).  Make sure to wear a kitchen mitten so you won’t get burnt from the hot liquid splashing.  Remove from heat.

4. Quickly soak the ramekins under warm water so sugar doesn’t solidify right away.  Pour the caramel sauce in the ramekins.

5. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar and whisk until it becomes creamy and smooth (That’s my husband mixing it up.  I asked my husband to be my assistant while I took pictures).

6. Meanwhile in a small saucepan, bring half of milk (200 ml) to a boil.  Remove from heat right before it starts to boil.

7. Slowly stir in a few drops of the hot milk at a time into the egg mixture and mix together.  Do not pour milk at once as the hot milk could cook the egg mixture and make it lumpy.  Whisk all together.

8. Pour the mixture back into the small saucepan.  Heat the mixture on low heat and whisk until it’s completely blended.

9. Once it gets warm again, add the gelatin and mix.  Make sure it melts completely. When the gelatin is completely mixed in, remove from the heat.

10. Pour the mixture over the sieve into the clean bowl.

11. Prepare iced water in a larger bowl and place the mixture bowl inside.

12. Add the rest of the milk (200 ml), heavy whipping cream, and vanilla.  Mix all together well.

13. Pour the mixture into the ramekins, and chill in the fridge for more than 1 hour.

14. After chilled, insert knife around the Crème Caramel and flip the ramekin on to the serving plate.  If it doesn’t come down, hold the ramekin like this (below) and shake once vigorously.  You should hear the Crème Caramel drop on the plate.

Enjoy!

My husband and my kids like lighter caramel sauce but I personally like dark and bitter caramel sauce like this…

 

Nami’s Crème Caramel (Purin)

When you caramelize, make sure not to make it really dark, because it will be too bitter.

Don’t you just love it? You can imagine what her savoury dishes are like if she doesn’t make desserts that often, my goodness. Nami is also a self confessed “recovering chocoholic”? Well, after Nami’s beautiful dessert I think I’ll have to admit that I’m not just a macaronivore but also a crème-carameloholic.  Thank you so much for sharing it with us and these beautiful photos.  Don’t forget to pop over to Nami’s blog, Just One Cookbook, and say cheers from me!  This week she has been making the most outstanding Japanese fish recipes.