December 2, 2012

crème caramel

My co-worker Virgie had birthday this week and I couldn't make her a cake because I ran out of flour (Thanksgiving cleaned me out). So I had to brainstorm options. The flan/pudding I recently ate from Irving Cafe reminded me that I had yet to make a proper flan. So I looked at dozens of recipes, most of which called for whole milk and/or heavy cream, neither of which I had. I was about to settle for one of the recipes utilizing low-fat milk and/or sweetened condensed milk when I decided to search creme caramel, or French flan.

And that brought me to Julia Child's recipe. I had never made any Julia Child anything, so it was time.

First, caramelizing sugar: 2/3 cup sugar and 1/3 cup water heated until the mixture *just* starts to brown (the color will deepen after you turn off the heat). Pour the caramelized sugar to coat the bottom of the desired ramekins (I used two medium sized ones). Don't worry if you didn't pour the sugar evenly - it'll even out during baking.

caramel bottom

Next, bring 2 1/2 cups of milk (yes, I used low-fat) to a simmer. While that is going, whisk 3 eggs, 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar together.

eggs & sugar

Once the milk is simmering, slowly pour it into the whisking egg/sugar mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

simmered milk

Then strain the mixture into the waiting ramekin(s).

strained into ramekins

Bake at 325F for 40 minutes, or until the creme caramel looks firm but is still wobbly and almost liquidy in the center. Pull it out to cool.

baked flan

I recommend serving it warm. You can run a knife around the edge and unmold it after it spends 10 minutes sitting in cold water. (Otherwise you can always cool it in the fridge overnight and serve cold the next day.)

unmolded flan

The creme caramel was exactly what I wanted flan to be: light and silky smooth. A little bit too sweet for my taste - next time I'll be sure to cut down on the amount of sugar.

eaten flan

But really, now I am a believer in Julia Childs. Wonder which recipe of hers I'll take on next!

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