I wish I could make a perfect crème caramel, with beautiful smooth sides and the perfect amount of caramel pooling on the top and around the edges but I can't. I can make a tasty, delicious crème caramel but like most things I make it always has a certain degree of wonky-ness about it. In some ways it's quite charming but in others it's not the desired effect.
I read somewhere that having your caramel perfectly solid when you pour the custard into the ramekin helps achieve the smooth texture. So I attempted that. I poured the caramel into the ramekins, took a shower, got a haircut, and did a little bit of shopping. A few hours later, I made the custard. Surely, I said to myself, the caramel will be set by now and I'll have beautiful, smooth crème caramels.
Well, apparently not. There must be some other trick I'm missing and if you know it (or any old wives tales about perfect crème caramels) I would appreciate some insight. Because, seriously, mine are pitted like nobody's business. They're adolescent crème caramels and they really want to become smooth skinned adults.
On the plus side though, they are delicious and taste just like jaffas.
Chocolate orange crème caramel
Adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking by
Makes four 125ml custards
For the custard
- 340ml(1 1/3cups) full cream milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- Zest of 1 orange, grated
- 2 large eggs
- 115g (4oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped
For the caramel lining
- 85ml (1/3 cup) water
- 135gg (2/3 cup) sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
To flavour the custard
Heat the milk, sugar, and orange zest in a medium saucepan over low heat until the mixture begins to simmer. Remove from the heat, cover, and allow to steep for 1 to 1/2 hours, until the orange flavour is strong.
To make the caramel lining
Pour the water into a small saucepan and add the sugar and cream of tartar. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear.
Increase the heat to high and boil the syrup rapidly until it turns a deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and immediately divide the caramel among the cups, swirling to distribute the caramel halfway up the sides. Set the cups in a roasting pan and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
To make the custards
Preheat the oven to 160°C (325°F) and position an oven rack in the centre.
Uncover the saucepan of lime-infused milk and place it back over medium heat. Reheat until the mixture begins to simmer.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs. pour about 1/2 a cup of the hot milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Once blended, whisk in another 1/2 cup. Then, slowly pour in the rest of the milk mixture. Add the chocolate and continue to whisk until it is completely melted through.
Strain the mixture into a jug and discard the zest. Divide the custard among the cups in the pan. Pull out the oven rack, place the pan on it, then pout enough boiling water into the pan to come halfway up the sides. Cover the pan in aluminium foil, ensuring it does not touch the top of the cups. Push the rack back into the oven and close the door. Make the custards for 30-40 minutes or until the centres are no longer wobbly
Remove the foil and then the pan from the oven, being careful not to splash water on to the custards. Immediately remove the cups from the water bath and place them on a rack to cool. Once cool, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate or at least 4 hours, until cold.
30 minutes before serving, remove the custards from the refrigerator and allow them to sit at room temperature. To unmold the custards, run a small knife around the edge of a cup. Place a serving plate over the top, then, holding the two together, invert the. The custard should slide out on to the plate. Repeat until all the custards are unmolded.