Creme Caramel

Circle B Kitchen

1 ½ cups whole milk

1 cup half and half

1 tsp vanilla (or vanilla paste)

½ cup sugar

6 eggs (3 whole eggs and 3 separated, use yolks only)

*Caramel topping (store-bought or homemade - see below)

Put kettle of water on to boil. Preheat oven to 350.

Pour 1 to 2 T of caramel into each of 8 custard cups.

In a saucepan, combine milk, half and half, vanilla and sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over medium-low heat.

Separate 3 of the eggs; discard the whites or keep for another use. In a mixing bowl, combine the remaining whole eggs and the yolks. Whip the eggs with a whisk until slightly thickened and lightened in color. While whisking the eggs, drizzle in about a quarter of the hot milk. Now whisk the tempered eggs back into the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture.

Place the custard cups into a roasting pan. Evenly distribute the custard into the custard cups. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and pour boiling water into the pan just under the level of the custard.

Cook for 30 to 40 minutes or until they wobble slightly when the pan is wiggled. Using tongs, remove the cups from the pan to a towel-lined sheet pan (I never have been able to use tongs to get the ramekins out of the pan. I just use a hot pad). Cool, cover and chill until ready to serve.

To serve, place the ramekin in a small bowl of hot water to loosen the caramel. Run a knife around the edge of the custard and place a serving plate on top. Invert. If the custard does not release, repeat the previous step. If desired, drizzle with a little more of the caramel sauce.

* Making caramel sauce is really quite easy. You will need 1 cup of sugar, 6 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of whipping cream.

1. Place the sugar in a heavy-bottomed 2 or 3-qt saucepan over moderate heat. When the sugar starts to melt at the edges, begin stirring to keep the sugar from burning in spots. Stir until the sugar comes to a boil and turns a medium amber color. (Don't let the sugar overcook as the caramel will taste really burnt).

2. Immediately add the butter to the pan and whisk until the butter has melted.

3. Remove from the heat and let the caramel rest for a few seconds and then slowly add the cream. It will bubble up, but just keep whisking. Once the cream is incorporated, pour the caramel into the ramekins.

Store the leftover caramel sauce in a glass container in the refrigerator. Warm before using again.