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Okay – I have an addendum. After a night in the fridge chilin’, the Classic Creme Caramel from Julia’s masterful book is, well, masterful. The caramel was soooooo delicious and the custard creamy, delicate, divine. It seems like a few hours of cold air did miraculous things to the concert of flavours in the ramekin and suddenly I think I love creme caramel.
Dr. Oetker has fallen flat. The next day flavour was thin and slightly artifical tasting, the texture a little slimy, truth be told. Of course, if you were in a rush and felt that you simply had to have a creme caramel to serve to someone, it would probably do in a pinch. It’s not terrible, just not as good.
On another note – for those of you who care, creme caramel is decidedly less terrible for you than creme brulee (which probably explains why I like the creme brulee better) since the creme caramel is made with regular milk as opposed to heavy cream.
And thus ends National Carame Custard Day.
Caramel Custard, a.k.a Creme Caramel, Flan, Crema Caramella. A light, egg-based custard baked in a caramel mold (no, not as in “mould”, the green stuff that grows on bread and kills bacteria; “mold” as in how they get the caramel inside the Caramilk bar). Not as good as a Creme Brulee if you ask me, but pretty tasty nonetheless.
I considered a variety of takes on the classic creme caramel: banana, mango, coconut, persimmon, apple, coffee … the list is endless. However, by the end of the day, when I was racing around the grocery store with my tired, hungry, haven’t-slept-in-days-verging-on-total-meltdown 16 month old son in tow, making caramel custard from scratch seemed a little daunting. Maybe like it might not even be fun anymore. That’s when I saw it:I don’t know what came over me. I guess I must have been in late Friday afternoon grocery store panic. I tossed it in my shopping cart and then, for good measure, I added 1 can of evaporated milk, 1 can of sweetened condensed milk, 500mL of 18% table cream, and 250mL of whipping cream – none of which I needed or ended up using. Never, EVER shop without a list.
Once home, in the midst of the flurry of activity that surrounds feeding child, dogs, cats, adults, while also making Dr. Oetker’s version of creme caramel from a box (exceedingly easy to do by the way – mix, heat, stir, pour, chill, done), I realized there was going to be no persimmon in my immediate future (probably because there weren’t any at the grocery store, but that’s not the point). Instead, I decided to go classic. After all, Dr. Oetker had done it, so could I! It would be a taste challenge! I busted out Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and got to work.
First you make the caramel sauce:
Then you put the caramel sauce into some ramekins:
In the meantime, you are heating milk to just before the simmering point and leaving it covered and not quite simmering while you start beating eggs and sugar and then bit by excruciating bit whisking the hot milk into the egg and sugar mixture:
Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into the ramekins
and bake in a hot water bath for … the book said 20 minutes, but that didn’t really seem to work for me, so I say, following my usual very exacting cooking technique, bake ‘em until they look done.
From the oven, to the fridge. Julia says you can put them in a cold water bath for 10 minutes and then serve them warm, but I opted for the fridge option since I had to take a time out to put the child to bed. And besides, eating Julia’s version warm would have given her an unfair advantage over poor Dr. Oetker who never saw the inside of an oven. After chilling (or setting in the case of Dr. Oetker), tip ‘em out onto a plate and try to artfully slosh the caramel sauce around. If you have leftover caramel sauce (which I did, lots), try to do fancyshmancy things with it. It seems that this variety of caramel sauce is really hard candy so you have to heat it back up a lot to decrease its viscosity (from rock solid to something that would work well as a depilatory). I ended up making some fun sugar strings – like spun sugar except I’m not that good.
End result? Dr. Oetker’s version might be a little more uniform in appearance (I did rush Julia out of the fridge before she was all the way set), but the classic made from scratch version was hands down the winner.