Crème caramel is one of my favourite desserts. Yes, it's basically a moulded egg custard, but calling it crème caramel seems to elevate it to a much more posh level of existence, doesn't it? Custard just doesn’t sound as smooth and velvety as cream or even crème, unfortunately.
I’ve made plain crème caramel a couple of times at home, but since Pete turns green at the mere mention of custard (not even calling it crème caramel can bring back the healthy pink that’s his normal colour!), I don’t get the chance to make it often - not unless I want to be eating it all week by myself.
Last weekend, with two teenagers at home who confirmed that they loved custard, I thought I would try making crème caramel infused with dark chocolate (original recipe here), to see if the chocolate could disguise the “custard” part of the pudding sufficiently for Pete to try it. Even if he didn’t like it, at least I could enjoy it along with the kids - and I wouldn’t have to eat it over the whole week, an added bonus! I did entertain a few initial doubts about whether the chocolate would pair well with caramel... which was a waste of good brain cells, really, because of COURSE chocolate and caramel go together - Cadbury’s and Nestle have proved that over and over with their éclairs and toffees!
As it turned out, the chocolate crème caramel came out just beautiful – unfortunately (or fortunately) not beautiful enough for Pete... although to his credit, he did try a spoonful. I can only say that he missed out on a good thing, because it was really a dark, rich, smoothly gorgeous chocolate experience.
The crème caramel didn’t last the day, much less the week... which is really the best sort of outcome for everybody, especially the cook.
Recipe for: Dark chocolate crème caramel
3 medium eggs
1/2 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
2 cups whole milk at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup chopped good quality dark chocolate
1. Put 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan and add the 2 tbsp water.
2. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring 2-3 times to dissolve the sugar.
3. Turn down the heat to medium and let the mixture cook undisturbed until it begins to turn colour.
4. Watch the caramel carefully now, as it can burn really quickly - you need to take the saucepan off the heat as soon as the mixture turns amber in colour.
5. Pour the caramel immediately into a pressure-cooker safe pan (eversilver or steel is good). Swirl it gently so that it evenly coats the sides of the pan. Let the caramel cool.
6. In another saucepan, heat the chopped chocolate along with 1/2 cup milk, till the chocolate melts.
Whisk in the rest of the milk and heat till it's hot, but not boiling.
7. While the milk is heating, whisk together the eggs, 1/4 cup sugar and vanilla
till lightly frothy.
8. Pour the hot milk in a slow and steady stream into the egg mixture, whisking briskly all the while. (My non-slip mat came in very handy here - it held the bowl in place while I did the simultaneous pouring and whisking! No photos of this manoeuvre though - my third hand was inexplicably absent!)
9. Then pour this mixture into the pan containing the caramel.
10. Place the pan in a pressure cooker (without using the weight),
pouring sufficient water in the cooker to steam the pudding (covered) for 35 minutes, first on high heat till you can see the steam coming strongly, then reducing the heat to medium-high.
11. Remove the lid and let the crème caramel come to room temperature. It might look wobbly in the middle while hot, but it will firm up as it cools.
12. Chill in the fridge for 3-4 hours before unmoulding the custard onto a serving dish. (Run a thin knife around the outside edge of the pudding, then place the serving dish over the pan containing the pudding and invert quickly.)