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Let each spoonful transport you to a romantic French restaurant.

| By Antonia Day | Journal

Lia Townsend’s Silky Crème Caramel is Pure Bliss

Let each spoonful transport you to a romantic French restaurant.

Welcome to Put on a Spread, a recipe series that takes you inside the kitchens – and dining rooms – of some of our favourite home cooks. For this instalment, grazing table enthusiast and founder of Stories to Gather, Lia Townsend, shares her recipe for the classic French dessert crème caramel.

Ingredients

For the caramel sauce

  • 160g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp water

For the filling

  • 600ml full cream milk
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 5 eggs, at room temperature
  • 100g caster sugar

Method

To make the caramel sauce

  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C, grease your ramekins (spray oil is fine) and set them aside.
  2. Place the sugar in a large pan. Break up any lumps and give the pan a shake to spread the sugar in an even layer. (Note, a light coloured pan will make it easier to monitor the colour change of the caramel)
  3. Place the pan over medium heat and wait for the sugar to caramelise (do not be tempted to stir at this point).
  4. It may take some time (around 5 minutes) before the sugar melts and starts caramelising. Once it has started to caramelise use your spatula to bring the caramel and sugar into the middle of the pan to encourage the white sugar to caramelise.
  5. As the sugar melts and caramelises, the colour of the caramel will change from a light gold to a light amber. Keep gently stirring the caramel to make sure all the sugar has caramelised.
  6. Once the caramel is completely smooth and all the sugar has caramelised carefully add the water making sure to stand back as it will bubble.
  7. As the bubbles subside continue to stir to cook the caramel until you’re happy with the colour. (Note: a lighter caramel tastes sweeter, while a dark caramel has a more complex, bittersweet flavour)
  8. Once you are happy with the colour work quickly to pour the caramel into the base of the greased ramekins before it sets. It should completely cover the base and have around 0.5-1 cm of caramel in the base. Set them aside while you make the filling.

To make the filling

  1. Halve a vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the seeds. Put both the pod and seeds into a saucepan, along with the milk and let it simmer, then switch off the heat to allow it to cool slightly.
  2. Place 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk with the sugar for 1 minute.
  3. Strain the vanilla milk mixture into a bowl or jug and discard the vanilla pod and skim away any foam from the top.
  4. Slowly pour in the strained vanilla milk mixture into the egg mixture whisking continuously.
  5. Pour the mixture between the ramekins leaving 0.5-1 cm gap at the top.
  6. Line a baking tray (with sides higher than your ramekin) with a tea towel and place the ramekins inside the tray ensuring they are not touching each other.
  7. Fill a tray with water to create a water bath. The water should reach 1/2 a 3-4 of the way up the ramekin.
  8. Cover the tray tightly with foil and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until just set and a sharp knife comes out clean. Note: Cooking time may vary depending on your oven and the size of your ramekins.
  9. Leave to cool on a rack then cover and transfer the crème caramels to the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

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