Monday, July 20, 2009

Creme caramel for two

Making creme caramel I believe is fueled by an unforgetable experience and may take a little dash of curiousity and a whole of courage. How could it not? I mean, who has the time (let alone patience) to sit there and ponder when the sugar solution looks like it's about the right color, and wait... did we know that caramel is essentially burnt sugar (to a degree)? I for one certainly didn't know this until my obsession with food pushed me to the culinary section of book stores and internet corners. So... if you had read my previous entry, you'd know that I had the intention of making smoked salmon roll, sharing one ingredient with creme caramel. No ready made creme caramel could emit that genuine caramel flavour of a home made and certainly no store bought could beat the satisfaction of making it yourself.

I did my research and found two base recipes that I think I could trust: one of Jamie Oliver and another of Neil Perry. I made some necessary adjustment to make precisely two pots of creme caramels and my ingredients are:

For the caramel
  • 100 g caster sugar
  • 80 g brown sugar
  • 100 ml water
For the pudding
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/2 cup of cream
  • 1 tablespoon of frangelico
  • 180 g sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
Lining the bain marie with tea towel prevents the bottom from overheating

First off, the caramel. Combine the sugar and water in a pan on a medium heat and feel free to stir all you like until the sugar is all dissolved. Once that happens, I suggest hands off stirring and let it just bubble away. One of the recipes I read said to take it off the heat once it turns chestnut color, but I'm not quite sure what chestnut looks like so I went purely with feelings. Bear in mind that after you take the pan off the fire, the caramel will still continue to burn/color courtesy of residual heat. Divide the caramel into two ramekins. If you don't have them, use coffee mugs. Make sure they're oven proof or at least don't use your favourite mug.

Now the pudding. Beat egg and leave aside (preferably in the fridge). Combine sugar, milk, cream and Frangelico into a saucepan and heat until sugar is all dissolved then let it cool. My rule is that if you can dip you (clean) finger in the solution for 30 seconds comfortably without being burnt, it's good to go with the egg. Whisk just until combined and strain into the ramekins.

Preheat oven at 170 degree Celcius and in the meanwhile prepare a bain marie. Take a baking dish that would fit your two ramekins/mugs and line the bottom with a tea towel. Put in your two ramekins and fill the baking dish with boiling water until it reaches half the height of the ramekins/mugs and bake for about 45-50 minutes until the pudding sets. Once done, cool the pudding for about 3 hours. Now just before you serve it, immerse the ramekins/mugs in boiling water to warm the caramel. Slide a palette knife (I used a very fine fruit knife) around the edge of the ramekins/mugs to loosen up the pudding. Invert the ramekins/mugs on a plate and serve. :) Good luck!

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