Creme Caramel from New Mexico

This is one of the recipes I enjoyed most at the Santa Fé Cookery School in New Mexico. Mexican Vanilla is not available to us, use one vanilla bean cut in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds into the milk mixture.

YOU WILL NEED

  • 1¼ cups (310 ml) sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) milk
  • 2 cups (500 ml) fresh cream
  • 2 t (10 ml) Mexican vanilla or 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
Method

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Spray the inside of 8 ramekins or old teacups lightly with a non-stick spray. Melt ¾ cup of the sugar in a small dry frypan or saucepan over medium-high heat. As the sugar caramelizes, you must not stir – but shake and tilt the pan to incorporate the dry sugar. Reduce the heat to medium, so that the sugar does not burn, and continue cooking until you have a clear deep amber liquid. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately pour equal amounts of syrup into ramekins or cups, tilting to distribute the syrup evenly on the bottoms.

In the same saucepan over medium heat combine the milk, cream, vanilla seeds and pod and remaining sugar. Heat the mixture over medium-high until hot, but not boiling, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the pan from the heat.

In a large measuring jug, whisk the eggs, yolks and salt until well blended. Slowly pour the heated milk mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Divide the milk mixture among the prepared ramekins and place them in a baking pan. Add boiling water to the pan to come about ¾ of the way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake the custards in the water bath for 35 minutes, or until they no longer tremble when shaken.

Remove the ramekins from the pan, cool, and refrigerate overnight. Run a thin bladed knife around the edge of the ramekins and invert onto dessert plates.

**Espresso flan:**

Make a wonderful coffee-favoured version by simply adding 1 or 2 T of coffee granules, or more to your taste, to the heated milk mixture and stir until it is dissolved.

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