Crème Caramel, or to be precise “Crème Renversée au Caramel,” is in itself one of my sweetest childhood memories! I partly grew up in Geneva, which is where I became familiar with many luscious, sweet and baked goodies! I remember my mom used to buy ready packed Crème Caramel sold in those 4-pack little cups. It was one of my favorite treats and I recall I was never satisfied with only one! I could easily eat all four in a row! I can still clearly remember  the taste of the smooth, milky, melt-in-your-mouth luscious cream with just the right dose of vanilla and the caramel that hits you after you swallow! 
To keep a long story short, I’ve had this dessert in many different places throughout the years and have been relentlessly searching for the flavor that comes closest to that of my childhood memories (I know it can never be exactly the same, but closest is good enough for me!)  Finally I found it in one of my most precious bedside books, “La Vraie Cuisine Française” (1963 edition). I’ll confess, I had snitched this book, among a few others, from my parents’ library! But, it served them well too! Ever since I tried making this recipe I have stopped searching for any other version of this rich but light dessert. So here it is, the ultimate Crème Caramel! Surprisingly simple if you just follow the steps exactly and carefully. Give it a try and I hope you enjoy it at least as much as I do!  

Ingredients

  • 750 ml (3 cups) whole milk
  • 120 gr granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • Vanilla pod or extract
  • 75-80 gr (5-6 tbsp)  granulated sugar, for caramel

Yields 8 servings, using 100 ml Crème Caramel molds

Step by step method

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  1. Set oven to 180-200 C (Keep in mind that oven temperatures vary a lot, so adujst accordingly). Have some water boiling in your kettle, ready for further use.
  2. Pour milk into a sauce pan. If you use vanilla pod, cut a finger sized piece lengthwise into two and scrape the seeds into the milk. Since you will strain the milk afterwards, place the pod in the milk too. Add sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Take off heat and set aside. NOTE: If you have to use vanilla powder or extract you should add it at the last stage of the whole process, when milk has cooled down a little. Otherwise you may get a bad taste!
  3. Place eggs into a deep and very clean bowl and lightly beat with a whisk. Try not to make eggs frothy. Set aside.
  4. Now rinse the molds with cold water and place them in an ovenproof tray that is at least the same height as the molds.
  5. Now place 5-6 tbps of sugar into a pan, add 1 tbsp water and leave to melt over medium heat. Do not mix with a spoon. You can brush down the sides of the pan with a basting brush dipped in water but don’t do any mixing until the crystallization starts disappearing as the sugar melts into a dark amber color and becomes caramel. At this point take pan off the heat and be careful not to burn yourself when handling this. You should never leave your caramel unattended at any stage of this process.
  6. Distribute all of the caramel into the molds equally (about 1 tbsp for each mold).
  7. Now return to the beaten eggs and slowly pour the warm milk into the eggs while whisking swiftly at the same time.
  8. Now place two layers of cheesecloth (muslin) into a fine mesh strainer and strain the mixture into a clean bowl.  Then pour the strained mixture equally into the molds.
  9. Place tray into the oven on 2nd rack from bottom. Fill tray with hot water (which you previously brought to a boil in the kettle) until about half way up the molds.
  10. The cooking time is approximately 45 to 60 minutes depending on your oven force. You should check on your Crème Caramel every now and then to make sure that the water in the tray does not boil! In case this happens, lower the heat a little and add a small amount of cold water, gently pouring it from the side of the tray, to stop the boiling.
  11. You will know that they are cooked thoroughly once they are set. You can test by gently jiggling one of the molds (be careful not to burn your hand). If they look runny then prolong the cooking time by a few more minutes. Once out of the oven take the molds out of the tray and leave them until cooled at room temperature. Then refrigerate them for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight before serving. Use a small round edged knife or small sized offset spatula to unmold, flipping them over onto a serving plate.

Bon Appétit!