Monday, March 11, 2013

Crème Caramel – Maybe the Best Dessert Ever

It would be impossible to pick a “World’s Greatest Dessert,” but if you’re going to have that conversation, the classic crème caramel has to be part of the discussion. When you combine stunning looks with amazing taste and texture, this classic is hard to beat. The way the almost-burnt caramel layer gets fused on, becomes one with, the creamy custard is nothing short of magic. Crème brulee gets more press, but people that know, know.

If my plea for you to use crème fraiche goes unheeded, yes, heavy cream will work here, but the subtle tang and nuttiness you get from the fermented cream takes this to places the regular stuff just can’t. It also seems to add some extra smoothness to the texture, and make no mistake; the mouthfeel with this classic is just as critical as the flavor.

I’ve not tested my theory, but other substitutions like buttermilk and sour cream should also work similarly. If you don’t have Grand Marnier, just using vanilla is fine, but the vague scent of orange rind that it provides the custard is really nice.

You also have the freedom to change the size and shape of your ramekins. Whether you use fewer, larger ones, or a larger number of smaller-sized ramekins, the procedure will work exactly the same. Of course, you’ll have to adjust the cooking times, but the “just set” doneness test will be your ultimate guide. I hope you give these classic treats a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 4 (6.5 oz) Crème Caramels:
*Scant 1/2 cup sugar, melted over medium heat until a dark caramel forms (just a tad less than a full half cup)
1 large egg
3 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Grand Marnier
1/2 cup milk
Bake at 325 F for about 45-50 minutes, or until just set.

View the complete recipe