Caramel Custard is a perennial English favourite at the dining table, undeservedly supplanted by its French cousin the creme brulee in recent years. The creamy custard soaked in a bath of liquid caramel is a delectable combination. And the beauty of it… because sugar is melted twice, the resulting caramel syrup maintains its runny consistency at all temperatures, even when the Caramel Custard is served chilled.
- Eggs (6)
- Milk (800 ml)
- Sugar (about 1 cup)
- Vanilla essence
- You can make caramel custard in individual portions or in one large pyrex / corningware container but the first step is always to assemble ovenware of the right volume (for the purposes of this recipe, I’ll be assuming you are using individual ramekins). As a guide, your ovenware should be able to hold 1 litre of water.
- Put 3/4 cup of plain sugar in a pan. Under slow heat, stir until the sugar caramelizes. At first, the sugar will yellow a bit and start clumping together, and after a while it’ll deepen in colour. I wouldn’t use a non-stick pan as the sugar gets really hot.
- At the point where the sugar has turned to medium golden brown, drizzle it with a large spoon to layer the bottom of your ramekins. You have to work fast as a bitter taste (some people including myself prefer this) will set in if you continue to heat the melted sugar too long, but if you turn off the fire, the caramel will cool and quickly thicken to the point where you won’t be able to work it. The caramel will harden immediately as it touches your cold bakeware so don’t harbour any thoughts about adjusting it later. Control the distribution as the caramel leaves the spoon.
- There will be some caramel left in the pan at the end and you might wonder how you are going to clean it. Don’t worry, its basically still sugar and melts in plain water after cooling.
- Preheat your oven to 140oC (290oF).
- Now for the custard, this is comparatively easy. Gently heat 800ml of milk with a sprinkle of nutmeg in a saucepan until there are some small bubbles around the edges. Turn the heat off.
- In a mixing bowl, beat 4 whole eggs, 2 egg yolks with 3T of sugar and then stir in the milk slowly to avoid cooking the eggs. Add 2t of vanilla essence. Put the whole mixture through a strainer to remove the strands of albumin from the egg white.
- Break off and dispose of any of the hardened caramel on the sides of the ramekins and pour in your custard. Skim off any bubbles.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until the custard has just a slight tinge of brown, and then leave in the oven with the heat off for a further 10 minutes (without opening the oven door).
- Place in the fridge overnight for the custard to mature to a pudding texture and the flavour of the caramel to work its way into the custard.
- If you want to go the extra mile, bake your ramekins in a baking tray with some boiling water and leave the heat on for the last ten minutes where its supposed to be off according to the recipe. This is more troublesome but it’s the classic way of doing it and it will get you the perfect ‘pudding’ look that you see in some cookbooks.
- It is customary to serve caramel custard inverted so the smooth caramel stained portion appears on top. Use a butter knife to separate the custard from the sides of the bakeware, place a plate over the ramekin and flip both over.