Caramel Custard

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes

    4 to 5

    servings

Appears in

The Ghana Cookbook

By Fran Osseo-Asare and Barbara Baëta

Published 2015

  • About

Ghanaians have embraced custards, likely a British influence from Gold Coast days. This classic baked custard dessert is commonly known in Ghana as “caramel custard,” but it is also known in other places as caramel flan. It is a stunning, stylish dessert made memorable by the caramel coating the top. The main differences from U.S. versions of this custard include the use of evaporated milk and the greatly reduced amount of sugar. The recipe has two parts: making the caramel and preparing and baking the custard that tops it.

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup evaporated milk

Method

Directions

Prepare equipment

  1. Before making the custard, place 4 or 5 six-ounce custard cups or a larger soufflé pan (in Ghana we sometimes use small empty evaporated milk cans) near the stove so they are ready for the caramel. Also have ready a large pan in which to set the custard cups in a water bath. Preheat the oven to 315 degrees F, and place an oven rack in the center.

Prepare the caramel topping

  1. Put ½ cup of the sugar in a small heavy saucepan. Heat the sugar slowly over medium heat on the stovetop until it begins to melt, swirling the pan occasionally (depending on your stove, this may take 8 to 12 minutes). Watch it carefully. As the sugar begins to melt, lower the heat to low and stir gently a few times, moving lumps towards the center with a silicone spatula or a long-handled wooden spoon until it becomes evenly golden (once it starts to change color watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn, which can happen quickly).
  2. When the sugar is gold-to-brown remove it from the heat and immediately pour the caramel into the bottom of the custard cups or pan. Let sit while preparing the custard. (The caramel hardens quickly, so it is a good idea to put the saucepan and stirring spoon into hot water right away to soak and dissolve the sugar to make them easier to clean.)

Prepare the custard

  1. Beat the eggs and ¼ cup of sugar together in a bowl until well mixed but not frothy. Stir in the nutmeg, vanilla, evaporated milk, and cups water. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into another bowl (I was told this makes the custard smoother, plus it removes extra nutmeg).
  2. Pour the custard into the individual cups with the caramel in them (or the large mold if making one large custard).

Bake the custard

  1. Set the pan that will hold the custard-filled containers on the stove top, put the container(s) in the pan and half-fill the pan with warm or hot water. Then carefully place it in the oven on the center rack. Bake the custard for about 60 minutes or until a knife put in one comes out clean.
  2. Remove pan from oven carefully. Using pot holders, carefully take out the very hot individual custard container(s) from the water, replace the hot water with slightly warm water, and return the custard containers to the water to cool.

To serve

Serve the custard warm or cool. It can be chilled in a refrigerator. To remove the custard when serving, go around the edge of the custard with a clean finger or a knife to loosen it, then turn it upside down onto individual serving plates or a serving platter and remove the cup. Très élégante!

Variations

  • Omit the caramel and bake without it to make a simple flan. Garnish with fresh fruit or toasted coconut or nuts, or sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon, or a sprig of mint on the side.
  • For a lighter version, use one 5-ounce can of evaporated milk and enough water to make 2½ cups liquid total.
  • Substitute another type of milk (soy or almond, etc.) for the liquid.