One of the first dishes David learnt to cook when he began his appreticeship in 1984. He remembers clearly how the making of the caramel terrified him as he didnt want to burn it, ruining the dish. Over the years that fear has been overcome - practice makes perfect! Don't let it put you off this French classic that no dinner party should be without.
For the Caramel
- 50 ml water
- 150 g caster sugar
For the Creme
- 3 free-range or organic eggs
- 500 ml full-cream milk
- 100 g sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
Preheat oven to 90ºC (190°F).
Lightly grease a large round baking dish or ten small dariole moulds or soufflé dishes.
To make the caramel, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over gentle heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium, bringing the syrup to the boil without stirring. Cook until mixture turns a dark caramel colour, this will take about 10 minutes.Immediately pour into the prepared dishes as this will stop the caramel cooking further.
To make the custard, lightly whisk the eggs, milk and sugar. Scrape in vanilla seeds, strain and pour into the caramel-lined dishes. Place in a baking dish lined with a tea towel (this will stop the custards from getting too hot at the base of the dish), pour in enough water to come just over halfway up the sides. Bake for an hour until just set. Remove the custards, cool, then place in refrigerator overnight.
To serve, using your fingertips, gently press the top edges of the crème caramels to release them. Carefully invert onto serving plates.