la crème caramel

by Sharon Santoni
  La Crème Caramel is loved by the French, young and old alike. The creamy texture, the subtle vanilla flavour to the cream and the stronger caramel is a wonderful combination.
I leant the secret to this recipe from famous chef Paul Bocuse, who in his recipe explains in detail how important it is to get the right balance of egg whites and yolks, so the creme is as creamy as possible, and sets perfectly without becoming too firm.
Here, I’ll show you how to make individual crèmes, but actually the recipe is exactly the same if you want to make one big one, it will still turn upside down just as well.

I always make mine with 1 litre or 2 pints of milk.  This will either make one big crème (make in a soufflé dish) or about 8 ramekins.  Remember, what makes the crème set is the egg whites, what makes it creamy is the egg yolks.

First make your caramel.  There’s nothing easier, 1 cup of sugar in a pan with  half a cup of water and turn up the heat.  The sugar dissolves, then starts to bubble then it will begin to turn golden brown.

You want to turn the heat off when it gets to this colour.  If it gets too dark, the caramel becomes bitter and you’ll have to start again!

 As soon as the colour is right, pour the caramel into your mould or into each ramekin and swirl it around while it’s still hot.  You want the base of the mould covered in caramel.  That’s it, you’re done with the caramel!
Now for the cream.  Pre-heat your oven to 330F or 180C.  In a pan, heat 2 pints (1 litre) of milk with a vanilla pod.  As you know a vanilla pod looks like a long black bean.  To get all the flavour out, split the bean lengthwise and with the tip of a knife scrape out the tiny black seeds, they are what give the most flavour. Heat the milk gently until almost boiling then turn it off and let the vanilla infuse while you mix the other ingredients.

In a bowl mix together 8 whole eggs, 4 egg yolks and 1 cup or 7 oz of sugar.  Pour the vanilla flavoured  milk onto the egg mixture and beat well. These quantities for the eggs are those that Paul Bocuse gives in his recipe, but if that many eggs alarm you, then you can reduce to 5 whole eggs plus 3 yolks.

Reach for your ramekins or soufflé dish that are waiting quietly with the caramel and pour the cream mixture into each dish.  Stand them in a deep tray with hot water coming half way up each ramekin or dish, this is a bain-marie,  and pop into the oven.

Bake them for about half an hour.  To see if they are done, insert a sharp knife into the centre of a crème, it must come out clean.  Purists cover the baking dish with foil, I feel that life is too short for that sort of detail and anyway we like our creams to look a little golden on top, or rather on the bottom once they are reversed.
Yes that’s right, you are going to reverse these crèmes!  And it’s really easy.  Once you’re sure they are properly cooked, remove from the oven and let them cool completely.  Run a knife around the edge to release the crème from the ramekin or dish.  Place a soup plate or shallow dish over the top and oup-la, flip it upside down.

As the cream slips into the dish it makes a nice sort of schloupy sound.  Carefully remove the ramekin or soufflé dish and voilà !  You have a perfect crème caramel.  Congratulations.


Erna October 19, 2010 - 1:09 pm

Oh Sharon that looks delicious, I love Creme Brulee…
Thanks …

Lori October 19, 2010 - 1:13 pm

It looks kind of like flan too! My husband loves it. We are having friends over on Friday, dessert will be pumpkin creme brulee.

Karyn October 19, 2010 - 1:24 pm

Oh Sharon , I will have to make this on the weekend now. When we go out to dinner I rarely eat dessert but if there is a creme caramel or a brulee , I always order it. Love all the details you give , thankyou it makes it all the more easy.
Karyn x

Sarah Elizabeth October 19, 2010 - 1:51 pm

Mmmm, I love crème caramel. I'm not brave enough to give it a try however, even though your instructions are very good and you make it sound so simple!

Carol Sybrowsky February 17, 2018 - 6:07 pm

Hi Sarah Elizabeth – do not fear making this dessert. Not only do Sharon’s instructions make it sound simple, it IS simple! If you do not have ramekins or custard dishes, you can make it in a large oven safe dish with straight sides. Not as fancy as individual cups but just as delicious.

Here is an easy recipe for Creme Brulee

Cara October 19, 2010 - 2:14 pm

my one and only favorite dessert!!

"Tea Time" Print Giveaway-Come on Over and Check it Out!

High Heeled Life October 19, 2010 - 2:59 pm

Mon Ami … this is my all time fav …. if its on the menu 9/10 times that is what I will be ordering… thanks for sharing the recipe!xo HHL

P.S. I trying to coordinate a BlogPen Pal group , and I would love it if you would consider participating…I'm trying to match people in different countries together.

Kiki October 19, 2010 - 4:35 pm

yum, yum, yummy…… looks absoluely delicious and I was just going to congratulate you on this wonderful series of photos when I found your reference to Pastrypal – but then I also found your last photo of the 'savings before the vultures came down….' LOL – delightful tasters and they don't make me any fatter!!! I am a crème brûlée fan 🙂

Acquired Objects October 19, 2010 - 4:55 pm

While that's looks really yummy I'm going to get fat if you keep showing us easy to make desserts because I eat them too!

Lorrie October 19, 2010 - 6:20 pm

Yummy. I like crème caramel, but I love crème brulée – the contrast of crispy sugar and divinely smooth custard is what does it.
I do make a coconut milk crème caramel for those who cannot have dairy and it is remarkably creamy and smooth, too.

Sarah Howe October 19, 2010 - 7:04 pm

OH!!! SO HUNGRY NOW! You have my mounth watering. That looks simply devine!

It is time to begin cooking.

Jeanne October 19, 2010 - 7:18 pm

Surprised I can reach the mouse, by that last shot I had completely melted off the chair just in anticipation of what they must taste like!! You lucky thing Sharon!!

Jeanne :))

webb October 19, 2010 - 9:44 pm

One of my very, very favorite desserts. I'll try your recipe soon.

Jill October 19, 2010 - 11:18 pm

Oh my goodness here we go again – my husband is so pleased you keep doing these recipes!! Well as soon as I have made it I will feature it on my blog and let you know. It was one of my favourite deserts when we were in France as well as creme brulee!!

a Broad October 20, 2010 - 1:21 am

If I told you that I have been sick, had a terribly sore throat and no appetite so my husband brought this home for me … twice ! … would you hate me?

shari @ little blue deer October 20, 2010 - 3:20 am

I am impressed! This is so difficult to make! XX!

La Dolfina October 20, 2010 - 3:57 am

I'm so excited I have always wanted to make this as it is my all time fave. I always order it when I eat out. I was just saying to my husband the other day that we should try our hand at making creme caramel! Thanks for sharing your talent with us 🙂
And thank you dear friend for your well wishes on my bloggyversary. You are a treasure to me!!!

Fräulein Klein October 20, 2010 - 7:43 am

Ich liebe Creme Caramel! Danke für das Rezept!!!!
Ich wünsche Dir einen schönen Tag
und ganz viele liebe Grüße, Yvonne

Dubai Shopping Festival October 20, 2010 - 9:08 am

this creme caramel reminded me of the equally tasting creme caramel that i at in one of the pastry shops when i was in dubai last year, the chefs there are some of the best in the world and offer some of the best cuisine you could ask for, too good looking, tempting me to eat it

Adam and Wendy October 20, 2010 - 9:36 am

OH! I want to try this!! I believe this was dessert I had in the restaurant after I visited Versailles!!

Pamela Terry and Edward October 20, 2010 - 5:24 pm

Where's my spoon????

Julie@beingRUBY October 22, 2010 - 2:55 am

OH Sharon… My favourite desert.. well creme caramel.. or creme brulee!!! I need a fix.. hheheh.. xxx Julie

Anonymous October 22, 2010 - 10:45 am

Can't wait to come back home to have your good desserts !


ellaquinnauthor December 16, 2012 - 3:45 pm

Since moving from Europe to the Caribbean, I've missed French cooking. Now I have a new favorite blog. Thank you.

Trisha February 15, 2018 - 3:01 pm

Sharon, can you please tell me if you use large or extra large eggs and also if the egg mixture is strained before pouring it into the ramekins to remove any residue from the vanilla bean? Thank you for sharing this special recipe. I baked your Lemon Tart last week and it was delicious! Your Blog is wonderful and always a joy to read.

MissLindy February 15, 2018 - 3:32 pm

What a lovely tribute to a REALLy GREAT man. Thank you for sharing these memories and the recipe.

Ta H February 15, 2018 - 6:44 pm

Sharon, you give no instructions for greasing or buttering the mold, before pouring in the caramel. When I invert it, the caramel often sticks to the pan and doesn’t come out. Any thoughts??

Zelds February 15, 2018 - 7:45 pm

I am going to give it a go , using the 8 eggs. they look so good.

Kathryn Gauci February 16, 2018 - 12:39 am

Definately an icon. Thanks for sharing the recipe. This version looks wonderful. I will make it this weekend.

Wilma V Prohaska January 24, 2022 - 5:21 am

Love it! I’m from the Caribbean and we call it flan. I make mine with 5 whole eggs, 1 evaporated canned milk, 1 cup of granulated sugar and vanilla bean pod seeds. Place in blender , pour over caramel mold. Caramel: the same, but no water. Cook in a double boiler on the stove top or oven at 350° Bain-Marie. 45 -55 min .


Leave a Comment