Coffee Custard

Crème au Café

Preparation info

  • Servings:


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

These proportions will fill four small individual ramekins—small portions, but it is a rich essence. It is good accompanied by heavy cream. Serve at the same time simple butter cookies, tuiles, palm fans (puff pastry sprinkled with sugar, rolled up from opposite edges to meet, sliced crosswise, and baked), pets de nonnes, etc.


  • 1 cup freshly ground coffee
  • cups milk
  • Caramel: 2 tablespoons sugar; water
  • cup sugar
  • Tiny pinch salt
  • 3 egg yolks


    Stir together the coffee and 1 cup of milk in a saucepan over medium flame until a full boil is reached, remove from the heat, and leave to infuse until tepid. Strain through a sieve lined with a cloth, pressing and twisting the cloth to extract as much milk as possible.

    Boil the 2 tablespoons sugar with 1 tablespoon water in a tiny saucepan, watching carefully—after the slurry boiling stage is passed, the sugar begins, first imperceptibly and then very rapidly to color. Remove from the heat the moment the right, rich, but not dark caramel color appears, pour in 2 or 3 tablespoons water and dissolve the caramel, stirring and returning to the heat for a few moments, if necessary.

    Combine all the ingredients, whisk thoroughly, and cook in a bain-marie on top of the stove, the water kept just below the boiling point—or, if you are using a heavy copper saucepan, the custard may be cooked directly over a tiny flame. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon and remove from the heat as soon as the mixture is the consistency of a heavy sauce, coating the spoon easily—it must not approach the boiling point. Pour into ramekins or into a single deep serving dish and chill.