This recipe is stupidly easy, and it has the added advantage of producing a rather good-looking dessert. No specific skill is required: if you can mix ingredients, you can make this crème caramel.
“But what about the caramel?” you might ask, “isn’t it a bit tricky to make? Won’t I end up with a crystallised, burnt-out glue solidified in my pan?” (not that this has ever happened to me; ahem).
Well, fear not, my fellow foodies, as I am about to reveal the secret ingredient which will assuage all your caramel-related fears: liquid glucose.
Now, I am not normally one for cheffy tricks, but this one blew me away: who would have thought that a substance that is basically sugar could transform so radically the texture of, well, cooked sugar?
I added some to my caramel just as the last bits of sugar were starting to melt; the mixture bubbled up rather fiercely, but when the volcanic activity died down I was left with the smoothest, silkiest, most gorgeously coppery caramel I have ever made. Not a single sugar crystal in sight! So if you have ever had any caramel disasters, I would urge you to try liquid glucose; I, for one, am a convert!
I use sweetened condensed milk here as it is a convenient shortcut; I didn’t find this out all by myself though, I borrowed the idea from a recipe by Bill Granger.
You will need (for 6):
30 g liquid glucose (optional, see above)
150 g caster sugar (unrefined if possible)
1 x 400 g tin sweetened condensed milk
1 litre milk
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160ºC/ Gas 4.
In a wide, non-stick frying pan, heat up the sugar on a medium to high heat until melted. Add the liquid glucose if using (see intro). Pour the caramel into a 24 cm ovenproof dish (not a metallic one, ceramic or Pyrex are ideal).
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs then add the condensed milk, the milk, and vanilla extract. Strain the mixture into the prepared dish.
Carefully place the dish in a deep roasting tin, and pour boiling water into the roasting tin until it reaches halfway up the sides of the dish. Cover with foil, and bake for about an hour, or until set but still wobbly in the middle.
Take out of the water bath, cool completely then refrigerate for at least 4h (or preferably overnight).
To serve, carefully run a knife between the crème and the sides of the dish, put a large serving plate over it, then while firmly holding the plate in place, invert the dish onto it.