Learning to Make Crème Caramel

One of my friends asked me to teach him to make crème caramel today. He asked, what are the things he should watch out for? If you’re not an experienced baker, you may have received a warning when you tell an experienced baker that you’re attempting to make crème caramel. “Be careful of the caramel! They can turn black very quickly.”

It’s a fair warning, but making caramel is not as hard as you may think. As long as you don’t leave your sugar syrup while it’s boiling and know when you should remove it from heat, you should be able to make caramel successfully.

Here’s a recipe that he used. This recipe is adapted from the Classic Crème Caramel recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

Crème Caramel
Makes 10

Caramel:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup

Custard:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Directions:
  1. For the caramel: In a medium saucepan, bring sugar, water, and corn syrup to simmer over high heat. Do not stir. Use a wet cloth or pastry brush dipped in water to  remove any sugar crystals that might cause the syrup to turn grainy. Continue to cook until the mixture’s surface starts to turn honey-caramel in color. Remove pan immediately from heat, and swirl to distribute the caramel color more uniformly throughout the syrup. Pour the portion of the caramel into each of 10 ungreased 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins and allow caramel to cool and harden.
    Note: Even after you remove the caramel from the heat, the heat from the saucepan will continue to cook the caramel turning the color darker. It’s better to remove the sugar syrup earlier rather than later as you can always turn it darker with a little more heat.

  2. For the custard: Adjust oven rack to center position and preheat oven to 350F. Heat milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until steam appears, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. While milk and cream are heating, gently whisk eggs, yolks and sugar in a bowl until just combined.

    Off heat, gently whisk warm milk mixture and vanilla into eggs until just combined, but not at all foamy. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or container with a pouring spout.

  3. Divide custard mixture among prepared ramekins. Place the filled ramekins in a large baking dish or roasting pan and set pan on oven rack. Fill pan with boiling water to reach halfway up the ramekins. Bake until the custard jiggles like a soft jello, or until a paring knife inserted halfway between center and edge of the custards comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer custards to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate (up to 2 days).

  4. To unmold, slide a paring knife around the entire mold, pressing the knife against the sides of the ramekins. Hold the serving plate over the top of the ramekins and invert. Set plate on a work surface and gently shake the ramekin to release the custard. Serve immediately.

Here’s what the finished product looks like:

He did good for his first time making crème caramel, didn’t he? It tasted great too! 🙂

After we finished enjoying a couple of these crème caramel, he asked, what will it take to reproduce this in his kitchen? Yikes! He needed a starter kitchen tool set. Good thing this recipe doesn’t really require a lot of tools so he can slowly build up his tool set.

What do you think should be in a starter kitchen tool set?

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New Year Seasonal Flavors

Happy New Year!!! 新年快樂

Some of you will celebrate new year twice in the same month this year. The lunar new year falls on January 23 and to help with the celebration, we’d like to introduce our mandarin orange and lychee puffs.

Mandarin orange has always been a symbol of abundance and good fortune. You would normally see them displayed as decorations or presented as gifts. We decided to add our twist to this fruit and so… Voila! We present our mandarin orange puffs.

The other seasonal flavor we decided to introduce for the new year is lychee. For those of you who have had lychee before, you’re probably familiar with the “perfume” fragrance of the fruit. This fruit is native to Southern China and Southeast Asia but it is now cultivated in many parts of the world.

As with all our other fruit puffs, both flavors are made using real fruits. We use mandarin orange puree and lychee puree to flavor the puffs. There are no additional flavoring, preservatives or coloring in these puffs. Because there are additional coloring added, you’ll find that our mandarin orange puffs have only a slight orange tint to them that is from the puree, and our lychee puffs are snowy white, similar to our pineapple puffs, that is from its whitish pulp.

Both flavors are now available in Li’l Puffs Online Shop.