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Crème Caramel

When cooking sugar to make caramel, it is important to brush the inside edge of the pan with a clean pastry brush dampened with warm water, as described in the recipe below. This will dissolve the tiny granules of sugar that form around the edge. If these granules form, the sugar is more likely to crystallize before it caramelizes.

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbs. water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine 3 Tbs. of the water and 1/2 cup of the sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Remove the lid and continue cooking, brushing the inside of the pan with a dampened pastry brush, until the mixture is light amber in color, 3 to 5 minutes more. Keep a close eye on the sugar so it doesnt burn. Add the remaining 2 Tbs. water and stir until smooth. Divide the caramel among four 6-fl.-oz. ramekins and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Have a pot of boiling water ready.

In a bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks until just blended.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until steam begins to rise. Add the milk a little at a time to the eggs, whisking constantly until blended. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and whisk until dissolved. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over a clean bowl or large measuring cup and stir in the vanilla.

Divide the custard among the preparedramekins. Set the ramekins in a roasting pan or baking dish 2 to 3 inches deep and add boiling water to fill the pan halfway up the sides of theramekins. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custards are set, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rackand let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Just before serving, run the tip of a paring knife around the inside edge of the ramekins to loosen the custard. Invert an individual dessert plate over each ramekin, hold the plate and ramekin together and invert again. Lift off the ramekin, shaking it gently, and let the caramel fall out onto the plate and the juices run down and around the custard. Serve immediately.
Serves 4.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.