Crème Caramel (Egg Custard Pudding)


Date Published: August 5th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 5th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: dessert, asian
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5mins | Cook time: 50mins

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Crème caramel is a Delicious (capital D intended) dessert with a custardy delicate egg base topped with a caramel syrup. I find this dessert especially addicting because it just melts in your mouth and it’s not too sweet so you don’t feel like you’re overloading yourself by having too many (at least that’s what I tell myself). You only need a few simple ingredients to put this together and although it’s a pretty easy recipe, it can be a little finicky at times so if you’re making it for the first time so I recommend you read through the step-by-step guide with the photos to help you along. The recipe is pretty wordy because I’m trying to describe everything as best as I can to minimize room for error, but once you start making it you’ll see it’s not difficult at all! (A video tutorial is on my to-do list so keep your eyes peeled.)

There are so many different names for this dessert that I had trouble picking a title for this recipe. I settled on crème caramel which is probably the most common name it goes by. Other common names are flan, purin (Japan), caramel custard, caramel pudding…etc. This dessert has been widely adapted around the world and with so many variations of flavours, sides, toppings, and cooking methods. Some bake it, others steam it; some use condensed milk, others use cream; some prefer a higher egg content, others prefer a higher dairy content; some prefer the texture stiffer, while others aim for delicate silky smooth…etc.

I grew up in Taiwan knowing it as ‘egg pudding’ (it HAD to be the Uni-President brand) and it was one of our favourite desserts. You can buy it from any convenience store and it came packaged in a plastic cup with a foil cover and a little plastic spoon. It was always a treat when mom would buy some for us and the dark brown caramel part at the bottom was gold. It’s also widely popular in Japan and they pride themselves on having their ‘purin’ to be silky smooth and creamy (kind of like a panna cotta or silken tofu). I’m pretty sure I ate at least 1 or 2 every day when I was in Japan because it was THAT good. This recipe is based on the Japanese version (adapted from Chopstick Chronicles) and I’m using evaporated milk to achieve the creamy flavour.

You can serve this dessert hot or cold, in a cup or inverted on a dish. My favourite is to refrigerate it overnight and then eat it directly out of the cup so I can scoop up the caramel syrup with every bite! I find the texture to be silkier and the flavours to be creamier when served cold. If you’re looking to impress, it looks much prettier inverted on a small plate.

Anyways, without further ado, here’s the recipe! If you have any comments or suggestions, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section! You can follow me on instagram, youtube and facebook to see all the recipes I post!

Happy cooking!

Ingredients you’ll need:

  • Caramel:
    • 70g granulated sugar
    • 50ml water
  • Pudding:
    • 3 large eggs
    • 60g granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 300ml milk – whole milk is better but light will work
    • 100ml evaporated milk – can use regular milk if you don’t have it, just won’t be as creamy

Equipment:

  • 4 small ramekins (or any small bowl/cup that can withstand heat on a stove)
  • A pan with a lid (the pan should be deep enough that you can fit the ramekins in with the lid on)
  • A small saucepan for the caramel
  • Dry tea towel
  • Whisk

Directions:

Grease 4 small ramekins with either butter or any neutral oil (ie vegetable/canola oil). Set aside.

Note: you don’t need to use ramekins if you don’t have one. Any cup/bowl will do as long as it can withstand heat on the stove.

In a small saucepan (ideally one with a white base so you can see the colour changes easily – we just moved onto the farm and unfortunately there are only black base pots here for the photo), make the caramel by combining the sugar with water over MEDIUM heat and swirl the mixture around until the sugar has dissolved. Let the mixture simmer until it turns into an amber caramel colour (15-20mins). Do NOT stir during this process. Gently swirl it to even out the colour changes if needed. Stirring will cause the sugar to stick to the sides of the pot and crystallize (like in the photos above – I didn’t learn about this until it was too late!). Don’t worry if you accidentally stir the mixture and get crystals (I do it all the time. I feel like I have an impulse to stir anything that’s been on the stove for a while). Your caramel will still turn out fine.

This is the longest step and you must be patient. The mixture will first start bubbling as the water evaporates and once the colour starts changing, the bubbles will disappear and you’re left with a thick caramel – but don’t take it off the stove until you get that deep amber colour like the photo above. Once the caramel starts changing colour, the colour changes will happen faster so watch it closely so it doesn’t burn. If you take off your caramel too early, the colour will be lighter and the overall pudding will be too sweet since the caramel hasn’t caramelized enough. The darker it is, the more robust the caramel flavour (and slightly more bitter) – but be careful not to take it too far and burn it.

While you’re waiting for the caramel, you can make the pudding filling (but keep your eyes on the caramel so it doesn’t burn). In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, 60g sugar, and vanilla extract until combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk and evaporated milk and microwave for about 1-2 mins until it’s warm (you don’t want it hot otherwise it will cook the eggs!). Add this milk mixture to the egg mixture gradually while whisking. Strain to remove any clumps.

Once the caramel is ready, quickly distribute it evenly into the 4 ramekins. The caramel hardens very quickly once it’s off the stove and will make it very difficult to pour into the ramekins if you let it cool. Try to swirl the ramekins as you pour so the caramel evenly coats the bottom of the ramekin. Don’t worry if the caramel hardens in the ramekin before you get to swirl it evenly – it’ll even out when it cooks (just try not to have a giant clump of caramel in the middle). Distribute the egg milk mixture evenly over the caramel into the ramekins.

Place your ramekins in a pan and add about 2cm of water into the pan around the molds. Turn the heat on high and when the water boils, wrap the pan lid with a dry tea towel (this avoids condensed water from dripping on your puddings) and put the lid on. Turn the heat down to LOW-MED (#3 on my induction stove) for 15mins then turn the heat off and leave it to steam for 15mins (do not open the lid during any of this process otherwise the steam will escape!)

Note on cooking time: it can differ greatly depending on what you put the pudding in (ie a glass mold will be faster to cook than a thick ceramic ramekin). These times are based on ramekins, so adjust as needed. It may be a bit of a trial and error at first. If you’re using a glass jar or a container with thin walls, check the mixture after 5 mins of cooking on low-medium heat. If it’s still very liquidy, then bring the water back up to a boil then cover with the lid and cook on low-med heat for another 5 mins and recheck. Keep doing this until the pudding looks slightly thickened, then bring it up to a boil and cover and cook for another few mins on low-medium heat and then turn heat off and let steam for 15 mins. I’ll admit figuring out the correct cooking time is the most finicky part of this whole process, but once you figure out what works best for you, it’ll be easy next time.

After 15 mins, the pudding should be set with a good jiggle (but not liquidy!) – a toothpick should be able to stand up on its own when you poke it. Take the ramekins out of the pan and allow it to cool. Refrigerate it for at least an hour (preferably overnight), then serve. You can either serve it in the molds or cut around the edges with a butter knife and invert the molds onto a plate and serve upside down (tip: if you sit the ramekin in hot water for a few minutes before inverting, it’ll melt the caramel and you’ll get more syrup released when you invert). You can also serve this dish warm, but I find the creamy flavours more prominent when served cold.

Summarized Recipe:

Crème Caramel (Egg Custard Pudding)

Date Published: August 5th, 2020 | Last Updated: August 5th, 2020
Author: Abby |Category: dessert, asian
Serves: 4 | Prep time: 5mins | Cook time: 50mins

Ingredients:

  • Caramel:
    • 70g granulated sugar
    • 50ml water
  • Pudding:
    • 3 large eggs
    • 60g granulated sugar
    • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 300ml milk – whole milk is better but light will work
    • 100ml evaporated milk – can use regular milk if you don’t have it, just won’t be as creamy

Equipment:

  • 4 small ramekins (or any small bowl/cup that can withstand heat on a stove)
  • A pan with a lid (the pan should be deep enough that you can fit the ramekins in with the lid on)
  • A small saucepan for the caramel
  • Dry tea towel
  • Whisk

Directions:

  1. Grease 4 small ramekins with either butter or any neutral oil (ie vegetable/canola oil). Set aside.
    • Note: you don’t need to use ramekins if you don’t have one. Any cup/bowl will do as long as it can withstand heat on the stove.
  2. In a small saucepan (ideally one with a white base so you can see the colour changes), make the caramel by combining the sugar with water over MEDIUM heat and swirl the mixture around until the sugar has dissolved. Continue to simmer the mixture until it turns into a deep amber caramel colour (15-20mins) (see notes above for tips). Do NOT stir the mixture. Gently swirl it to even out the colour changes if needed.
  3. While you’re waiting for the caramel, you can make the pudding filling (but keep your eyes on the caramel so it doesn’t burn). In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, 60g sugar, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and evaporated milk and microwave for about 1-2 mins until it’s warm (you don’t want it hot!). Add this milk mixture to the egg mixture gradually while whisking. Strain this mixture to remove any clumps.
  5. Once the caramel is ready, quickly distribute it evenly into the 4 ramekins. Try to swirl the ramekins as you pour so the caramel evenly coats the bottom of the ramekin. Distribute the egg milk mixture evenly over the caramel into the ramekins.
  6. Place your ramekins in a pan and add about 2cm of water into the pan around the molds. Turn the heat on high and when the water boils, wrap the pan lid with a dry tea towel (this avoids condensed water from dripping on your puddings) and put the lid on. Turn the heat down to LOW-MED (#3 on my induction stove) for 15mins then turn the heat off and leave it to steam for 15mins (do not open the lid during any of this process otherwise the steam will escape!)
    • Note on cooking time: it can differ greatly depending on what you put the pudding in (ie a glass mold will be faster to cook than a thick ceramic ramekin). These times are based on ramekins, so adjust as needed. It may be a bit of a trial and error. If you’re using a glass jar or a container with thin walls, check the mixture after 5 mins of cooking on low-medium heat. If it’s still very liquidy, then bring the water back up to a boil then cover with the lid and cook on low-med heat for another 5 mins and recheck. Keep doing this until the pudding looks slightly thickened, then bring the water back up to a boil and then cover and cook for another few mins on low-medium heat and then turn heat off and let steam for 15 mins.
  7. After 15 mins, the pudding should be set with a good jiggle (but not liquidy!) – a toothpick should be able to stand up on its own when you poke it. Take the ramekins out of the pan and allow it to cool. Refrigerate it for at least an hour (preferably overnight), then serve.
    • You can either serve it in the molds or cut around the edges with a butter knife and invert the molds onto a plate and serve upside down. You can also serve this dish warm, but I find the creamy flavours more prominent when served cold.
    • (Tip: If you sit the ramekin in hot water for a few minutes before inverting, it’ll melt the caramel and you’ll get more syrup released when you invert)

2 thoughts on “Crème Caramel (Egg Custard Pudding)

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