Caramel is my adult Regina George. If you don't get the Mean Girls reference, caramel is that pretty girl in school that was mean and you hated but secretly you wanted to be her friend and was in awe of her amazing hair/skin/figure and the way guys just fell for her. I love caramel but I fear it. Sometimes it is sweet to me. It colours perfectly and smells devine. Sometimes it turns on me like a snake and crystallises into a white rock hard mess. But I can't walk away because it tastes so damn good...
Practice will make perfect.... Right?
Creme caramel is a classic baked custard dessert. This version is fancied up with the addition of malibu rum in the caramel and vanilla beans in the custard.
From Neven Maguire 'Home Chef', makes 7/8
400ml can coconut milk
1 vanilla pod, split with seeds scraped open
4 eggs plus 3 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
For the caramel
150g caster sugar
1. First make the caramel. Place the caster sugar in small, heavy based, not non-stick saucepan with 50ml water. Bring to the boil stirring so that the water and sugar are mixed together. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stop stirring once the sugar has dissolved. Otherwise the sugar will crystallise.
2. Continue to cook for 10 minutes at least until the syrup has turned a dark copper colour. If you have a sugar thermometer this is around 320-350oF/160-176oC. Take off the heat.
3. Pour in 100ml water into the hot caramel to prevent it browning further and burning. The mixture may splutter be careful. The caramel may go funny and lumpy at this stage. Add the malibu and return to the heat until the caramel has a thick consistency, like honey.
4. Divide the caramel among 7/8 ramekin dishes or small teacups that have been lightly oiled with sunflower oil and kitchen paper.
5. Place the coconut milk, cream and vanilla pod in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat subsequently and allow to cool slightly for 5 minutes so that the eggs don't scramble.
6. Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar and vanilla seeds together until incorporated. Pour the hot milk mixture in in a steady stream whisking all the time.
7. Pass the mixture through a sieve into a jug. Carefully pour on top of the caramel filling each ramekin to the rim.
8. Bake at 140oC for 30-40 minutes until set to the touch but still a little wobbly in the centre, like jelly. The outside should be fairly firm.
9. Leave in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours but preferably overnight.
10. To serve run a sharp knife around the outside of the creme caramel. Place a bowl on top of the ramekin. Keep the ramekin/bowl at your chest level, then with your fingers on top of the ramekin sharply lower the ramekin/bowl to waist level until you hear the plop of the creme caramel out on the bowl. This may take a few tries of sharp movement.