At the Heart of a Creme Caramel

I was recently reminded of the reason I love food so much. Food is the invisible thread that binds us all together; we celebrate, mourn, share our cultures and even our own selves through it. And every time I want to show appreciation, or love, give comfort or provoke a smile, I start in my kitchen.

Yesterday I made a creme caramel. As things usually unfold between friends who have known each other for what seems like lifetimes, conversations spill into compassion and evolve into delight, ending right there where it began, in the kitchen of course.

RECIPE

Creme Caramel

jackie-kai-ellis-creme-caramel-1

Adapted from Fine Cooking

1 cup sugar, divided into 2
1/4 cup water
2 tsp good vanilla extract
3 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
1/4 tsp fine sea salt

2 medium saucepans
6-6oz ramekins or deeper oven-safe dishes
2″ deep baking pan
Kettle of hot water
Silpat or piece of parchment

Preheat the oven to 325F. Boil a kettle of water. Place the ramekins in the baking pan and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine water with 1/2 cup of the sugar and place on high heat. Make a caramel by boiling the sugar mixture until it begins to turn a cinnamon colour. Remove from the heat and begin to slowly and gently swirl the pan, being very careful, until the colour turns to a mahogany. Carefully divide the caramel into the bottom of each ramekin. Allow them to cool and set. (The mixture is now over 300F and could cause severe burns if spilled so be very careful!) 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla extract.

In another saucepan, combine the milk, cream, salt, vanilla seeds and husk and heat on medium-high until it just comes to a simmer. Remove the husk and slowly pour into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously.

Divide the egg mixture into the caramel-coated ramekins. Place the ramekins and baking pan into the oven and pour the reserved kettle of hot water into the bottom so that the water comes up halfway. Lay a silpat or piece of parchment on top to cover. Bake for about 15-25 minutes for a 2 “deep ramekin, rotating half way through. (the baking time will vary based on the depth and size of your ramekin)

Once the custards are slightly bubbled on the surface, set and still wobbly, remove from the oven. Take the ramekins out of the pan and place into the refrigerator, covered, to cool. This can be made up to 2 days before serving and kept in the refrigerator.

When ready to serve, simmer a small pot of water and dip the bottom of the ramekin into the water for 20 seconds. Run a thin paring knife along the side of the custard to release it. Cover the top of the ramekin with a serving plate upside-down, hold them tightly together and flip the two over so that the ramekin is now upside-down. Remove the ramekin to reveal the creme caramel. If it is not released, wiggle the ramekin slightly on the plate or tap the bottom. Serve and enjoy with best friends.

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