Wednesday 20 August 2014

Rachel Khoo's Creme Caramel from The Little Paris Kitchen.

Lets just say this dessert saved the day.

Last night for dinner we had a friend over. We're having Roast Chicken Marylands with potatoes, carrot and onions. Sounds great, right? It was in a red wine marinade and all baked in a tray.

There it is. Did you see it? "all baked in a tray" these recipes are around to try me. You'd think that I'd have given up by now but no. I'm still persisting but this disaster of a dinner may have just done the trick for a while. If it was just Tristan and I for dinner I wouldn't have worried too much and shrugged it off as a bad dinner and been happy with Vegemite on toast but we had a guest. Yes, you read this right. We had a guest for dinner and it was a DISASTER!

First the chicken had gizzards inside which I didn't expect. Now I'll admit I'm a little squeamish with offal but if I'm prepared for it I can handle it. This I was not prepared for.

The potatoes even said boil them for 2 minutes and I did thinking I'm super safe with this recipe, the potatoes will definitely be cooked. Nup. Crunchy potatoes anyone?

I'm terrible at time management. It wasn't until 8:30pm that I revealed this monstrosity of a dish which had huge hunks of chicken. That were raw. Long sticks of raw carrot. Yes some were still just as raw as when I snacked on them before I put them in the baking tray, raw onions and did I mention crunchy potatoes?! Oh and the chicken was raw... I think I said that but I'll repeat it again. I served raw chicken to a dinner guest. It was a DISASTER! I hung my head in shame and hardly ate a thing. I kept saying sorry and I could feel myself getting sheepish and what I wanted to do was hide. Hide and hang my head in shame.

One day I will be able to master a chicken tray bake. Goodness knows what will happen if I try roast a whole chicken... dear oh dear I might resuscitate it instead of cook it!

Rachel khoo's creme caramel from My Little Paris Kitchen

At least I had this amazing dessert I made the night before to finish the dinner off with... hopefully it left a better last mouthful of dinner and the horrible roast chicken was erased from everyones memories. Mine might be scared for a while.

Creme Caramel is my favourite dessert I think of all times. I can guarantee that I will post more than once a recipe or review on a creme caramel. I'm even caught sometimes buying the ones pre-made in the supermarket cold section... They remind me of going to the local leagues club with the family and having my favourite dinner of all time. Spaghetti bolognese and a creme caramel. I have so many variations of this classic dessert and I've tried a couple but always go back to the simplest ones.

The recipe I chose was from one of my favourite cookbooks and cooking TV shows...

Rachel Khoo's Creme Caramel (Vanilla Cream with Caramel Sauce) from The little Paris Kitchen is sooooooo good! Such simple ingredients cooked in a perfect way. It did take alot longer in my oven than it was meant to but I'm thinking I'm going to have to double the time on everything I put in the oven.
Does it get any simpler than milk, vanilla, eggs and sugar?

Vanilla milk

This recipe wasn't overly sweet like some are and you get that rich bitterness through the caramel sauce by melting the sugar in a dry saucepan rather than with a little water. The recipe also says to cook it until it looks like the colour of cola. I have a guilty hungover pleasure for coca cola and I definitely don't want my caramel to look like that. It would taste burnt. I've have cooked caramel to that colour before and smoked the place out. Maybe more of a crimson sunset colour I would say.

dry caramel

To make your caramel in a dry pan make sure you don't add all your sugar at once and start with a clean dry pan. (I have learnt the hard way when I first started working in a kitchen and I had to google how to make a dry caramel during service. Not a very fun memory. Lots of sticky, burnt, crystallised pots). Start by adding a sprinkle in the bottom of your pan and place on a medium heat. Once that starts to melt sprinkle over a little more. Never put a spoon in the caramel, as temping as it is. Swirl the sugar in the pan gently but never stir it. Gradually add more, a little at a time making sure the last bit of sugar has melted and continue adding it until you have added all your sugar. The sugar can burn very quickly so when I first started making it I would take it on and off the heat so that if I thought it was getting away from me I could control it and allow the sugar to melt in the residual heat. Sounds complicated but it's not. If you a little hesitant to make it this way you can alway add some water to the sugar and boil it till golden. The difference in flavour is that when you melt the sugar in a dry pan you get more rich intense flavour where as when you add water to start with it has a sweeter taste and far less intensity.

The rest is easy peasy. That was the hard bit.

Rachel khoo's creme caramel from My Little Paris Kitchen

Rachel Khoo's Creme Caramel from My Little Paris Kitchen.

serves 6 (or as many ramekins you own - I made 8 small ones in various sizes)
(recipe adapted slightly - no cola colour here!)

For the Custard -
500mL milk
1 vanilla pod, sliced in half lengthways and seeds scraped
60 grams of sugar
3 eggs plus 2 egg yolks

For the Caramel -
250g caster sugar
2tbsp water

Preheat your oven to 110 degrees celsius.

Start with the Caramel. 
- Melt the 250g caster sugar in a clean dry pan gradually (see above for more details) until it becomes a crimson sunset colour. Add your 2 tbsp of water and stand back. This will spit and splutter and might seize on you. Let it calm down and get your self a heat proof spoon/spatular and dive it a little stire. Because all your sugar is added and melted it is ok to stir now. Never before.

- Divide caramel up into the ramekins evenly.

For the Custard.
- Boil milk and vanilla pod and vanilla seeds together and let sit to infuse while you whisk the eggs, extra yolks and 60g sugar together in a bowl. Careful not to over mix or you will get bubbly creme caramel bottoms.

- Pick out the pod from the milk. Pour the milk into the egg mixture whisking as you go so you don't scramble your eggs. Make sure it is all combined and then divide between the ramekins.

- Place the ramekins in a roasting try with a thin tea towel on the bottom (I was taught this trick at TAFE to regulate the cooking and so they don't rattle around in your tray). Pour cold water into the baking tray until it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins. Place into the oven until the custard is set around the edges but it still has a sexy wobble going on. Rachel says 30-40 minutes but I'm coming to terms that in my oven you have to double the amount of time they are in the oven.

I baked mine for about 60 - 70min but kept checking because I had a variety of sizes cooking toether. Ideally you want all the same sized ramekins.

- Remove from the water and allow them to rest in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours... I waited maybe an hour. Make sure you cover them in the fridge well or they will take on what ever your fridge smells of at the time... onion creme caramel isn't very tasty.

- To serve, run a knife around the edges and dip in hot water for about 30 seconds then invert onto a serving plate. Enjoy these delicious little morsels of custardy goodness!

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