Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Caramel Custards

It's been a long time since I've made custard, but I remember really liking it. When I saw this recipe in Martha Stewart Magazine I decided to try making it again. There are only a few ingredients, and I already had everything I needed in the house.

Caramel Custards
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 c whole milk
  • 1/4 c heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • Coarse salt

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until deep amber, about 7 minutes. Carefully whisk in milk and cream.*
  2. Whisk together yolks, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Let the milk mixture cool a little.** Slowly pour caramel-milk mixture into yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Skim any bubbles from the top. Divide evenly among four 6-ounce ramekins.
  3. Set ramekins in a 9-inch square baking dish. Pour boiling water into dish to come a third of the way up sides of ramekins. Bake until custards are just set but jiggle slightly, 27 to 30 minutes. Remove from water using tongs. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Whipped Cream
  • 1 c heavy cream
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 T confectioners' sugar

  1. In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

My first attempt at boiling sugar and water was a disaster. I set the temperature too high and didn't pay enough attention. The recipe said boil for about seven minutes on medium-high heat. Well, that's a crock. In five minutes I came back to a pot of black, boiling caramel with heavy, burnt-sugar-smelling smoke rolling out of it. Really, I think I should quit my day job and just become a professional chef.

After opeing all the windows and turning on all the fans, I tried again. This time I used medium heat and didn't take my eyes off if it. Perfection!

The second batch was going much better. Here it's still too light. The recipe said cook until it's deep amber.

I mixed the eggs, vanilla, and sea salt while waiting.

Deep amber if I've ever seen it.

*When I dumped in the cold milk into the hot caramel, the caramel solidified, and frankly, it about scared the crap out of me. I just wasn't expecting it, and I thought I screwed the recipe up again. Eventually it melted and all was well.

*The original recipe should tell you to let the hot milk mixture to cool a little ... I didn't think about it until I dumped a little in and a couple little lumps of cooked egg appeared. Bummer.

Apparently I have the biggest ramekins ever made. I had to use two water-filled baking pans to fit them in.

I had leftover egg whites, so I made white scrambled eggs. They looked weird, but tasted about the same.

While the custards were cooling, I made whipped cream to help use up the rest of the heavy whipping cream. 

And ta-da! Yummy little caramel custard with homemade whipped cream! Even with the few lumps of cooked egg, they were really good.

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