Sunday, October 24, 2010

The path to creme caramel

Last week I had the luxury of a live-in caregiver for Harvey, the wonderful Marjorie. The idea was for them to get used to each other and what needs to be done while I roamed happily around Wellington. With the willing co-operation of friends booked in to keep me company, it all worked very well, from ....

Petone, and GoBang's rhubarb and custard brioche, to...

Willis St, and Cafe Neo's mini cupcake - I love it when you can have something delicious but small - to...

Porirua, and Pataka's chewy apricot slice...

Brilliant exhibitions at Pataka, go and see them. Two are by women, and "SHEEP - NZ Icons in Art" features lots of work by women too. The one that struck home for me was the "triple portrait", the heads of three raggedy, venerable sheep, all looking haggard and angry, painted in sinister shadings of green and magenta. It's called "The Mothers".

So after all that, I was quite happy to stay home this weekend and do some cooking. For ages I've been yearning after creme caramel, but I'm a bit of a wimp when it comes to boiling sugar. So I use a clever microwave version from a really good book Harvey's mother Betty passed on to us in 1989, when she got it as a free gift from Reader's Digest. (She didn't need it because she didn't have a microwave, but her neighbour did. So when Betty gave her one of the ducks Harvey's brother had shot, the neighbour tried to cook it in her fancy new oven. The lead shot exploded, destroying both the duck and the microwave.)

Creme caramel (from Good Housekeeping Microwave Encyclopedia, by Susanna Tee)

For the caramel:
3 tablespoons caster sugar
3 tablespoons water
glass jug
round or oval ceramic dish which holds 750 ml

Mix in a glass jug and microwave on high for 5 minutes until the caramel turns brown. Watch it very carefully - I gave mine 4 minutes, then 30 second bursts and finally 10 seconds. Stop as soon as the sugar begins to darken. Pour the caramel immediately into the bottom of the dish.

For the creme:
450 ml full milk (not trim) in larger glass jug
3 eggs
2 tablespoons caster sugar
natural vanilla essence

Microwave milk on high for 90 seconds, just to warm it.
Lightly beat the eggs with the sugar.
Add the eggs and sugar to the milk and mix in a few drops of vanilla essence. (Or, if you have a vanilla bean, you can heat the seeds with the milk.)
Strain the milk and egg mixture carefully over the caramel.

Cover with two layers of cling film and place in a larger dish which will fit in the microwave.
Using a jug and a funnel, pour boiling water into the larger dish until it comes halfway up the smaller dish.
Microwave for at least 25 minutes until the custard is lightly set. My recipe says to do this on low, but that didn't seem to be hot enough to set the custard, so I used medium low instead.
Leave to stand for 5 minutes. Remove the dish from the water, take off the cling film and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours until set.

I didn't even try to turn this out, as I'd used an oval dish. I just started eating it straight out of the dish. I could do this because Harvey doesn't like it, so it was mine, all mine. It was a bit too wobbly still, but it tasted and felt exactly as it should, slippery creamy blobs of custard bathed in golden caramel. It should serve four, but I ate half of it yesterday and I'm going to finish it off tonight.


Missy said...

That Creme caramel looks sooo yummy and sweet but kind of hard to make...


AnneE said...

It's really not hard,the caramel needs attention but after that it's all pretty straightforward. Have a go!

Anonymous said...

Wow, talk about indulgence!!!! Mmmm! Awesome!

Plain Jane said...

Enough for four, indeed! I wish I could post a pic of the creme caramel I enjoyed last week in a French cafe in Hanoi. Or one of many plates of fresh spring rolls, or ... I'll shut up.