Crème caramel

Similar to the custard Mexicans call flan (what the French call flan is a pastry and different from this dessert), this recipe calls for a one-litre soufflé mold and makes enough for 6 to 8. Even better, this can be done in 7 5-ounce ramekins if you are energetic enough. I weight the liquid measure a bit more in favor of cream and less of milk to make the dessert richer since I only eat a tiny bit myself. I often double this recipe to use my 2-litre soufflé mold and two ramekins for the overflow. I take the large cream to a party and save the two ramekins for lunch at work (in front of amazed colleagues). Cooking time doubles for the large dish as well as does the room-temperature cooling time.

250 grams granulated sugar (about 1 cup)
4 tbsp water
1 bean vanilla (or 2 tsp real extract)
425 ml milk (1¾ cups)
225 ml cream (just shy of one cup)
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks

1. Add 175 grams (¾ cup) of the sugar to the water in a small pan with thick bottom over a medium to hot stove. Stir until dissolved, then bring to a boil, stirring no more but moving the pan to keep it boiling evenly, until the resulting syrup turns dark, golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Pour this syrup immediately into the mold (or ramekins) and, holding the mold with hot pads, roll the syrup around to coat the sides all the way to the top around and around until it cools on the mold. Set aside.

3. Scrap the grains from the vanilla bean halved or the liquid vanilla into a mid-sized pan. Add the milk and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat stirring frequently. Remove from the heat, cover and let rest 20 to 30 minutes.

4. Preheat the oven to about 325° in preparation for step 6.

5. In a bowl, whip the eggs (and the extra egg yolks) and the remaining sugar into a creamy mixture. To this, add the rested milk and cream and mix. Pour the contents of the bowl through a wire strainer into the prepared mold(s). Cover with aluminum foil.

6. Into the hot oven, place the mold(s) in an oven dish or deep cookie sheet filled with hot water (not to overflowing nor to contaminating the custards). Leave until an inserted table knife comes back clean—about 40 to 45 minutes. Withdraw from the oven and set aside for a good hour. Place in refrigerator overnight.