I have a sweet tooth. It originates with my childhood (again!), when my mother sent us back to school after lunch with a plain slice of bread and two lumps of sugar in a brown paper bag. This was our snack.
At home, all of us children loved desserts and because milk, sugar and eggs were the most common staples she had on hand (we had the grocery store next door and hens in our backyard), my mother had a quick and inexpensive dessert to satisfy us: The caramel custard, which I make now in individual “ramequins”, but she baked it in a big pyrex dish and cut it with a knife, in very exact and equal rectangles before serving (we were nine at the table but my father was given two pieces). She lifted each piece with a spatula and deposited it carefully on our plates, the caramel oozing from under it and making a dark amber and fragrant aureola which we were allowed to wipe clean with our finger.
Because I make it individually so it is easy, I reverse the individual custard on the plate, and the caramel is on top but drips along the sides and settles around the base, making it very appealing.
This recipe is for 10 to 12 portions, depending on the size of the ramequins. I make that many servings, first because my husband, Alain, adores it and may at times have two a day, and also because I bring it to my friends to be served after an evening of card games.
I like it warm, just out of the oven. Alain – and most of the people I know – like it very cold. It will keep well in the refrigerator.
Caramel Custard Recipe
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 quart cup water
- 5 cups milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3 whole eggs
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Dispose the individual ramequins in one pyrex dish, two if necessary.
- Preheat the oven to 300 degree F.
- Fill a three quart saucepan with water and heat it up on the stove, to the boiling point. Lower the heat under the pan until ready to use.
- Set a three quart saucepan on top of the stove on medium/low temperature.
- Pour the cup of sugar and the quart cup of water in the saucepan, cover with a tight lid and let it bubble, lifting the lid once in a while to check the color. Never stir.
- When the mixture is amber and fragrant, remove it from the stove, swirl the pan so that the liquid ceases to bubble and pour a small quantity in each individual ramequin (up to a tbsp).
- Fill a three quart saucepan with the five cups of milk and heat on medium on top of the stove. Lower the temperature just before the boiling point and keep warm until ready to use.
- Break the three whole eggs and the five yolks in a bowl with the 1/2 cup sugar, the 1/8 tsp salt and the tsp of vanilla. Whisk until light and foamy.
- Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture in a very thin stream while whisking constantly until all the milk is mixed with the eggs and it is foamy.
- With a ladle, fill each container with the milk/egg mixture.
- Also with a ladle, add the hot water to the pyrex dish(es) so that the water comes up to at least half of each ramequin.
- Set in the oven and let it bake for 45 minutes to one hour.
- When cool, circle a knife gently around the inside edge of the container, cover it with a plate and with a quick motion, reverse the ramequin so that the plate is under it. Wiggle to dislodge the custard or shake it gently with an upward/downward motion.