Crème Caramel

Preparation info

  • Makes


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Lighter, Quicker, Better: Cooking for the Way We Eat Today

Lighter, Quicker, Better

By Richard Sax and Marie Simmons

Published 2000

  • About

A first-class crème caramel or flan, with a smooth-as-silk custard set off by deep amber caramel, is one of the best desserts imaginable. The classic formula for crème caramel is four egg yolks to two cups of whole milk, sometimes enriched with cream. This version uses lowfat milk and one less yolk, cutting fat and calories by about a third.


Caramel Syrup

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon very hot tap water


    1. Heat ½ cup sugar and the cold water in a small heavy skillet over moderate heat. Brush the sugar crystals from the sides of the skillet with a pastry brush dipped in cold water. Be sure that all of the sugar has dissolved before syrup comes to a boil. If there is some sugar left undissolved, remove the pan from the heat for a moment and stir until smooth. Boil the syrup, without stirring, until the syrup becomes golden. Add the hot water; the mixture will sputter. Swirl the pan over low heat until the caramel is smooth. Pour immediately into four 4-ounce custard cups or ramekins, dividing evenly. Set aside.
    2. Heat the oven to 325°F. Bring a kettle of water to a boil for a water bath and set aside.
    3. Scald the milk in a small saucepan and set aside.
    4. Whisk the eggs, egg yolk, and sugar in a bowl until well blended. Gradually whisk in half of the hot milk until thoroughly blended. Then gradually whisk in the remaining milk and the vanilla.
    5. Place the caramel-lined custard cups in a large shallow baking pan. Strain the custard mixture into the cups. Set on the center oven rack and add enough hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the custard cups. Bake until the custard is set but still slightly wobbly in the center, usually 35 to 45 minutes. Do not overcook. Let cool in the water bath for 1 hour.
    6. To serve, carefully loosen the edges of each custard with the tip of a sharp knife blade. Place an individual serving plate on top of each one and invert carefully, letting the caramel syrup drip over and around the custard. (The custards can also be made ahead and chilled. Remove from the refrigerator about 20 minutes before serving.)