Crème Caramel has been in every single cookbook for generations, but it falls into that category of desserts that we tend to forget about! So, take out your own recipe or follow mine, because it’s time we made this classic dessert! I happen to think my mom’s recipe is the best of all. Every time I prepare it, everyone is delighted. That aromatic trace of orange zest in the custard makes all the difference! It’s such a refreshing dessert for this time of the year but it’s also suitable for every other season, too (it would also be perfect as part of a Thanksgiving dessert buffet). Plus, it’s not as heavy as crème brûlée.
My mom’s recipe is innovative, as it is prepared in a pressure cooker and will bring down cooking time to only 15 minutes. Today, I baked it in the oven as some of you may not have a pressure cooker, but I’m posting both cooking instructions.
Instead of preparing it in individual ramequins, I prefer using a bundt cake pan. That way, my guests can have as little or as much as they want in one serving!
For the caramel
- 1 + 3/4 cups granulated sugar (or 350 g)
For the crème
- 4 cups cold milk (or 1 liter)
- 7 eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar (or 180 g)
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
Prepare the caramel:
– In a medium cooking pot, melt the sugar until completely dissolved into a thick liquid, over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
– Pour into a bundt cake pan (do not use a pan with a removable bottom) or divide into 8 ramequins, and set aside. Be extra careful when handling, as the cake pan sides and the ramequins become burning hot the moment the caramel is poured in.
Prepare the crème:
– In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix for about 3 minutes, until well combined.
– Pour the crème into the bundt cake pan or divide in the ramequins.
Cook in the pressure cooker
– Add water into the pressure cooker, up to 3/4 of the cake pan. Cover the cake pan with aluminum foil, and make a hole in the middle (where the hole of the bundt cake pan is – this will help you hold and insert the cake pan into the pressure cooker). Follow your manufacturer pressure cooker instructions and cook for 15 minutes.
Bake in the oven
– Place the cake pan (or the ramequins) into a baking dish, and into a 350 F (175 C) preheated oven. Then, pour boiling water very carefully into the baking dish to cover the ramequins halfway. Make sure that no water gets into the ramequins. Bake for about one hour (bundt cake pan) or for about 45 minutes (ramequins) or until an inserted knife comes out clean.
When the crème is ready, remove the cake pan from the pressure cooker (or the ramequins from the water bath) and let them cool completely. Transfer them, covered, into the refrigerator and let them cool for at least two hours. To serve, run a knife gently around the cake pan (or the ramequins) before inverting onto a serving dish.
- If you are using individual ramequins, then use the oven method and not the pressure cooker.
- No need to scrub the cake pan (or the ramequins) and the cooking pot from the hardened caramel; simply fill with water and let sit for a few hours. The hard caramel will dissolve away.
- Be extra careful to avoid getting burned when handling the hot caramel, the boiling water and when removing the pans from hot water bath.
- The water bath does not need to reach a boiling point (no bubbling necessary for baking).
- I was curious to find out where my mother got this recipe from, so I asked her, almost assured that she would recite one of her many exquisite culinary experiences from France… Well, nothing that glamorous! In the 60’s, while my mom was at the hair salon in our hometown of Volos, Greece, another customer was sharing this recipe and everyone in the salon was copying it down. I told you: this is a classic!