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.
Put the granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. Stir using a wooden spoon to dissolve the sugar in the water. Over a low-medium heat , then leave the caramel to form without stirring. This should take about 10 minutes (don't multitask and leave the pan - keep your eye on it). It should start to smell like caramel when light brown. Swirl it around a bit and wait until the caramel is medium to dark brown (too light and it will just be too sweet; too dark, it will be bitter).
Pour the caramel into 5 ramekin dishes (or one big one), 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.
Preheat the oven to 170°C/340°F/150°C fan/Gas 3. Split the vanilla pod down the middle if using. Pour the milk into a medium saucepan, adding the vanilla (or other infusions if using) and just allow the milk to heat to simmering point (not boiling). Take off the heat and remove the vanilla pod (scraping out the seeds and adding to the hot milk).
Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar in a medium bowl. Pour in the hot vanilla milk and whisk constantly. Place the ramekins into a large roasting tin. Pour the hot milk over the caramel in each ramekin. Place the roasting tin in the middle of the oven and pour in warm water around the ramekins so that it comes to about 2/3 of the way up.
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.
Serve with fresh berries or slices of exotic fruits, depending on the season.
To serve, many Parisian brasseries serve crème caramel directly in their ramekins. If you like to see them upturned as shown in the photos above, slice 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.
Best served at room temperature.
With the leftover whites, why not make macarons or financiers from my books - or try these quick almond tuiles?