My first attempt at crème caramel


As a Taurus, I can be quite stubborn and also a little bit of a glutton for punishment.

So last week, in the middle of one of the busiest weeks in my life (even trumping the week I sent my MA thesis to the binders and every hour I would find another revision that I needed to make, resulting in many tears and much stress), I knew that I was going to make the Food Network Canada’s Community Cooking Challenge dish for the month of April if it killed me.  Which, being as it was crème caramel, was quite likely – I had watched my mum make many of these when I was younger but never attempted myself.

I arrived home, exhausted already but determined to have a go at it even if it didn’t work out.  Much to my horror, I discovered that I only had one egg in the fridge and there was no way I was going out to get more (it had been one of those weeks). So I simply got out my calculator and divided the recipe below by 6, thinking I would make one tiny individual portion.

I had a bit of trouble with the caramel (though not as much trouble as my friend Suzie – read her story – it’s quite hilarious!) because the measurements were so tiny – 10mls of water? Riiiiiight…  It turned a very dark shade of caramel and therefore so was the milk I swished around the saucepan to use for the custard which ended up quite dark as you can see below:

I also was having a bit of a thick moment re: the cooking time.  Initially I thought I would divide the cooking time by 6 but not so much.  I ended up cooking these babies for about 40 minutes and they were the perfect consistency.

I ended up making two small ones because the custard mixture would not fit into one ramekin but they did deflate slightly when they were cooled down, resulting in little crème caramels the size of small pancakes, albeit the thick fluffy ones.



Laura Calder’s Crème Caramel

1 cup sugar (for the topping)
2 cups fresh whole milk
1 vanilla bean
6 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
pinch nutmeg (optional)


1. Heat the oven to 325°F/160°C. Bring a full kettle of water to the boil, and turn off the heat (this is for the water bath later).
2. Dissolve the sugar for the topping in a saucepan with 1/4 cup/60 ml water, and boil until it turns a dark, fragrant, liquid caramel. Pour into the cake tin and swirl to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside.
3. Pour the milk into the same saucepan, so that it laps up the caramel on the bottom and sides (this is the most brilliant trick for flavour!) Split the vanilla bean, scrape the seeds into the milk, and add the pod. Heat to the boiling point, turn off the heat, cover, and set aside to infuse 10 minutes. Meanwhile, beat the eggs with the sugar. Add the nutmeg, if using. Once the milk has infused, whisk it into the egg mixture.
4. Strain the custard over the hardened caramel and set the pan in a larger dish or roasting pan. Pour the boiled water into the bottom pan to come half-way up the sides of the flan. Transfer to the oven and bake until set, 45 minutes to an hour.
5. Remove the flan from the oven and from the water bath. Run a knife around the outside edge to loosen the flan. Cool completely – even chill, if you like. To serve, flip the flan onto a plate, pour over any caramel remaining in the pan. Serve in wedges.


Overall, I was pretty happy with how these came out.  No, they were not perfect but I *got* the concept and if I can make them in the dazed and confused state I found myself in last week, I can certainly make them if I put my mind to it. Oh, and if I have more eggs!  Mr Neil did not complain either.  I will be attempting this again fairly soon…


37 Responses to My first attempt at crème caramel

  1. penny aka jeroxie May 2, 2010 at 07:01 #

    Just as long you tried! Good on you. But I am with you with stubborness.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 2, 2010 at 10:29 #

      Well and as it actually tasted ok, I am ok with it. It was the technique I was afraid of but it turned out to be much easier than I thought. And I am sure when I make a full sized one it will be fine. Glad I tried in any case.

  2. bunkycooks May 2, 2010 at 07:31 #

    Sounds as though there is much going on your life right now! I say take a break from all of it one day if you can (blogging, school, etc.). It will be a good thing. Good for you participating in the challenge with all the craziness!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 2, 2010 at 10:28 #

      Actually when I am in the kitchen, I feel like I can kinda sorta control things so it’s a bit of a refuge from the craziness. Except of course, when there is only one egg!

  3. claudia lamascolo May 2, 2010 at 09:41 #

    Cnograts on this looks marvelous, and I know too well on what its like to be Taurus! Happy Bday to you as well 🙂

  4. Penelope Tsaldari May 2, 2010 at 10:16 #

    I think you did just fine (you know I lied right?) “but” the good news is that your next one will be magnifique!. If you fail… try, try, try again! Proud of you for posting! Proud as punch!!!
    Take care,

    ps: Just don’t eat it – stand away from the dish.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 2, 2010 at 10:27 #

      Actually if you read the end of the post, it tasted great. Just not sure about the colour of the custard…. And as a regular reader of this blog, you know I am not afraid to post “less than perfect” dishes because goodness knows I am not perfect! 😉

  5. Daydreamer Desserts May 2, 2010 at 10:52 #

    As some who has made a dessert or two, or 10… that have not turned out too “pretty”, I know it can be frustrating, but the moment you take a bite and it puts a big smile on your face, it makes it all worth while. Way to hang in there Mardi!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:45 #

      Well thank you so much for your vote of confidence!! It was pretty yummy and as we know, sometimes pretty does not necessarily mean delicious! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. k a b l o o e y May 2, 2010 at 11:02 #

    I’m a Taurus too, but I don’t have your ability to multitask, I’m afraid. But that’s why you’re so good at this. Proud of you!

  7. Barbara @VinoLuciStyle May 2, 2010 at 11:17 #

    Uh oh…I’ve seen you work through macarons…and I prefer using the word determination instead of stubborn; nothing wrong with that!

    So I would say you have a determination to achieve perfection…and you will get there, I know it.

    That being said..that picture at the top…only word I can think of is ‘drool.’

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:43 #

      Aw Barb, that’s why I love you – can always count on the support from afar! Fortunately these are not as hard as macs and they will be made again, successfully!

  8. pierre May 2, 2010 at 12:01 #

    my mother in law is a taurus …. just an advice if I may I think you cook too long so try to diminish to 30mn and you will see the difference !!!
    Paris is beautiful today !!
    Pierre the scorpio (not better than taurus!!)

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:42 #

      Thanks – not sure about the timing of such a small amount of the recipe and how long it is supposed to be in there for but will definitely make these again!

  9. Mr. Neil May 2, 2010 at 12:29 #

    Mr. Neil is not a huge creme caramel fan. Not a dislike, but a creme brulee beats out in my books everytime.

    This as tasty, and in fact the darker colour and stronger flavour made this dish even better, for my tastes.

  10. Jessica @ How Sweet May 2, 2010 at 18:29 #

    I have never tried my hand at this either – it looks delicious!

  11. Gourmantic May 3, 2010 at 08:23 #

    I had a similar result once with a complex panna cotta, a little too burnt in the caramel and the Taurus in me made me eat it regardless! 😉

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:41 #

      Well it didn’t taste bad perse – just didn’t look like a cc is supposed to (in my book!)

  12. Tracey@Tangled Noodle May 3, 2010 at 10:12 #

    Yet another example of why you are my role model for culinary perseverance! One egg would’ve stopped me in my tracks but I love how you took up the challenge of figuring out a 1/6th recipe – awesome. Given how well this turned out, I can’t wait to hear about the full-fledged version!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:40 #

      Well it’s funny – my mum emailed me and told me she does the same thing (dividing the recipe into smaller quantities) often! Must be in the genes!

  13. Sharlene (Wheels and Lollipops) May 3, 2010 at 16:37 #

    Yeah for determination and BRAVO ! Crème caramel is not easy let along diving a recipe into that size.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:40 #

      Yes I think dividing it into such a small quantity threw it off a bit. But they were still edible.

  14. Tami May 3, 2010 at 18:44 #

    Your 1st attempt Mardi is leaps and bounds ahead of mine. It took me ages to remove the caramel from the bottom of the saucepan!!

    Will have to give your recipe a try, hopefully I could actually get the caramel out of the saucepan with water added to the sugar, rather than my attempt at melting straight sugar.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:39 #

      Oy! Melting straight sugar!!! No these were fine, just flat and not the colour I like in a crème caramel – though it’s because I followed the recipe. Should have followed my instincts!

  15. A Canadian Foodie May 3, 2010 at 20:50 #

    Great job, Mardi! The top photo looks delicious to me! I appreciate your tenacity. Love that in a home cook – so much is learned through perseverance, isn’t it?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 4, 2010 at 21:38 #

      Thanks Valerie and thanks for calling me “tenacious” – it has a much nicer ring to it than stubborn!

  16. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 3, 2010 at 22:33 #

    This is why I am so happy that you are joining me on my Kitchen Bootcamp adventures… Love your perseverance!

  17. Conor @ HoldtheBeef May 5, 2010 at 01:21 #

    You may be a glutton for punishment, but I’m a glutton for creme caramel. Feel free to practice on me any time.

    Thank god for calculators in these situations as well. I can trust my mental maths skills normally, but with baking I never trust my brain. I also often don’t trust my fingers, and do the calculations twice.

    Well done!

  18. Fuji Mama May 6, 2010 at 21:24 #

    BRAVO! I totally understand that stubborn part of you! 🙂


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