Lemon Juice

Crème Caramel

June 19, 2017
4 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Makes 8 custards
Author Notes

Okay, daredevils: This recipe's for you. It's the most challenging dessert in our quintet because you have to make caramel *and* custard *and* endure a 12-hour chilling period. And once that's all squared away, you must then invert the crèmes and cross your fingers that they slide out of the ramekins in good shape. If that doesn't make your heart rate increase, might I suggest bungee jumping?

But the results are worth it: a quivering pudding with a waterfall of caramel that sweetens every bite. To take the recipe a step further, infuse your cream—with crushed cardamom pods, orange zest, chopped coffee beans, Earl Grey tea leaves, or fresh herbs—before you begin.

Lightly adapted from Fine Cooking. —Sarah Jampel

What You'll Need
  • For the basic caramel:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • For the crème caramel:
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Heat the oven to 325° F. Place eight 6-ounce ramekins in a large roasting dish.
  2. Make the basic caramel. Fill a small bowl with water and keep a pastry brush nearby—this is for washing the sides of the pan to stymy crystallization. In a heavy 2-quart saucepan, stir the sugar, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup cold water. Brush down the sides of the pan with your pastry brush to wash away sugar crystals.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, occasionally brushing down the sides of the pan, until the mixture starts to color around the circumference, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Gently swirl the pan once to even out the color and prevent isolated burning. Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium-dark amber, about 1 minute more. Immediately pour the hot caramel into the bottom of the ramekins, portioning equally.
  5. Working quickly, swirl each ramekin so that the caramel is about 1/2 inch up the sides. Set the ramekins, still in the roasting dish, aside and let the caramel harden.
  6. Fill a tea kettle or hot water heater and bring the water to a boil—you'll be using this for a bain marie. Combine the milk, cream, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove pan from the heat.
  7. Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in a medium bowl and then temper the mixture by adding a couple ladles of the warm milk mixture, whisking constantly. When the egg mixture is very warm, add it back to the pot of milk and whisk constantly to combine. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into a liquid measuring cup or other spouted vessel. Then divide between the ramekins, filling each one.
  8. Pour the hot water from the kettle into the roasting dish so that it comes 1/3 of the way up the sides of the ramekin. Bake the custards in the water bath until the edges are set but the centers jiggle slightly when shaken, 30 to 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cook time. If the centers are still wavy, cook them a bit longer.
  9. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool completely before covering each with plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least 12 hours (and up to 3 days).
  10. To serve, run a small table knife around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the custard. (It's easiest if you take the custards straight from the fridge but warm the edges of the ramekin with a hot dish towel. Use a warm paring knife to help release the custard.) Quickly invert each custard onto a rimmed plate, using a side-to-side shaking motion if it does not release. Eat right away.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Radiochick
  • Fat Azizi
    Fat Azizi
  • Donna C.
    Donna C.
  • Helen

5 Reviews

Radiochick July 24, 2020
I had way to much liquid left over after filling 6 ramekins. It was a little too sweet for me. I might try again with less sugar.
Radiochick July 24, 2020
I had way to much liquid left over after filling 6 ramekins. It was a little too sweet for me.
Fat A. December 14, 2017
Hi, good day to you!
I came across your recipe and I made it and ITS SO GOOD!! I want to say thank youu for sharing. I will stay with this recipe for creme caramel. All the best for you. Love from Malaysia !
Donna C. October 19, 2017
This can be done with out warming the ramekins...simple take the back side of a spoon and press along the side edges to release the custard from the ramekin, then tip out on to a plate. Easy peasy and you don't leave anything behind in the dish.
Helen July 26, 2017
Terrific recipe. Have made it 2 or 3 times recently for dinner parties. Only change I made was out of simple laziness-I used five whole eggs instead of 4 whole and 2 yolks - it was just easier for me and still turned out great!!