Caramel custard with crunchy almond rochers and strawberries – recipe

February 26, 2013 in Baking, Pastry, Desserts recipes

There is something about desserts that slide out of ramekins .

The curiosity, if they were baked right ? The excitement when they suddenly plonk out of their comfortable spot ? Or is it fear…what if they break ( so will my heart)  or just simply get stuck ?

Whatever maybe the strange concoction of  emotions attached to these desserts, I was quite in mood to use my shiny, white, ceramic squares and send them for a steamy spa- treatment in the oven with something ‘caramely’ and something ‘puddingy’.

Caramel, chocolate souffle …hmmm…no

Creme brulee… ummm (remembering my run on the treadmill)… no

Caramel custard – comfort in every bite – YES YES YES !

Since, I fancy the simplicity and elegance of traditional desserts- I went with the last choice adding my own little twist of  ’fruit and crunch’. I decided that this winter day will be dedicated to Betty Crockers ‘Just like moms- caramel custard’ recipe.

I served it with fresh, sliced strawberries and homemade, caramelized, almond rochers to add a crunchy texture.

This coming after a spicy Indian dinner was  perfect to balance the heat and flavors of the meal. Needless to say  my friends polished it off with a huge smile. And, of course I saved two extra for the day after and the day after that…(suddenly the treadmill has turned into a faint, distant memory).

While talking about caramel custard we found it intriguing that it had so many eclectic variations across the world. What was even more interesting was that, I, an Indian had made the French version and served it to a Venezuelan and British friend- WELCOME to the world dessert forum :)

‘French call this elegant dessert creme caramel’

‘Latin America- Argentina and nearby countries serve it with thick caramel sauce – dulce de leche’

‘North America and Spanish speaking countries call it Flan’

‘India- the dessert was an influence of the British Raj and is still often made in a pressure cooker (also used to make rice,lentils etc.) since, many  households did not own ovens in the past’

‘Venezuelans and Brazilians make it with condensed milk’

‘The Caribbean twist is to use coconut milk’

Oh! and by the way we just got a new camera – Canon 600D, for our anniversary and my birthday present…( bursting into silly, victory dance) and I must say-  I AM IN LOVE !!! So here is my ‘ NEVER FAIL’ recipe with my  ’food photography experiments’

caramel custard

Caramel custard

Adapted from Betty crocker recipes

Makes : 6 ramekins/ medium sized custard pots ( about 120 gms each)

Prep time: 25 minutes

Total time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS- CARAMEL CUSTARD ( also known as creme caramel )

  • 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl- for caramelizing 
  • 1/3 cup sugar in another bowl- for the custard
  • 3 eggs slightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 and 1/2 cups very warm milk ( * heat in the microwave or on your stove- this step is important)
  • Sliced fresh strawberries to serve

 INGREDIENTS- caramelized almond rochers

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup coarsely crushed almonds ( blanched,peeled and slivered almonds ( if available ) OR almonds with peel will also work)
  • Butter paper OR an oiled marbled surface

METHOD- CARAMEL CUSTARD 

1) Pre-heat oven to 180°C/ 350°F.

2) Heat 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat – KEEP STIRRING until the sugar is melted and turns into a beautiful amber colored liquid.

3) Pour & divide the sugar syrup among your ramekins tilting the cups gently to coat the entire bottom – BE CAREFUL while working with hot sugar. Let the sugar cool and harden in the cups for 10 minutes. If they make a crackling noise- thats normal. Dont worry ! your cups are not breaking- its the caramel thats cooling :D

4) In another bowl- mix the eggs, vanilla, salt and gradually stir in the milk. DO NOT BEAT the mixture- ONLY STIR.

-  At this point you can add spices like cinnamon/nutmeg if you wish-

5) Pour this mixture into the custard cups one by one.

Caramel Custard caramel tops

Caramel syrup coating bottom of ramekins

THE  SLIGHTLY TRICKY PART- PUTTING IT ALL IN THE OVEN ( using bain marie method) 

1) Place your cups in a big baking pan.

2) Pour very hot water till it reaches almost 1/2 inch below the tops of your cups.

3) Place the big pan holding your cups on an oven rack .

4) Slide a sheet of foil on top of your custard cups loosely so that air can still circulate but ir covers your precious custard pots. This prevents burn spots, allows even heating and avoids an uneven surface after baking.

5) Bake for about 45 minuts to  1 hour , checking in between to see if your custard has set ( it will be jelly like firm ) . If you insert a knife in the center-  it should come out clean.

6) FIRST take the foil off and THEN take out your pan ( so you can prevent the water from spilling) and let the cups cool for half an hour.

7) Refrigerate for few hours or upto 48 hours.

cooling down your caramel custard

cooling down your caramel custard cups

TO UNMOLD

1) Loosen the sides of the cups very gently with a sharp knife ( I was not too patient and thus the rough edges)  and place a plate on top of the cup. Then, holding both the cup and the dish tightly turn it upside down swiftly .

Shake it gently and tap it out of its mold.

Your caramel custard should fall out with the caramel syrup running down the sides to form a sauce.

METHOD- Almond rocher

1) Gently melt the sugar on a saucepan till it turn  light golden brown- stirring constantly . At this point immediately add the almonds and gently fold them in till they are coated with the caramel sauce and the mixture is a deep amber color . You are automatically roasting the almonds in this step with the high heat of the caramel.

2) Quickly take the pan off heat and spread it on the oiled surface or butter paper. Let it cool for about 20 minutes before breaking into smaller bite sized pieces. Alternatively, you could spoon small portions of the mixture onto the butter paper.

almond caramel rocher

Almond caramel rocher

ASSEMBLY

1) Place a few sliced strawberries on the side and pour some leftover caramel sauce on them

2) Place a crunchy caramelized rocher on top of your dessert and serve

BREATHE, SMILE, EAT – BLISS !

Caramel custard

Caramel custard