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Creme Caramel

May 11, 2010

Creme Caramel

Creme Caramel is actually a French dessert – but alot of Vietnamese dishes are influenced by French cuisine. I made this for the first time around 15 years ago for JJ’s family not realizing that this was a real Vietnamese treat. In fact, the recipe I used called it a Mexican Flan – so I had no idea they would love it so much. I personally do not like the egginess of it as I am not fond of egg tarts either, but, I will eat a couple of bites just to make sure I made it correctly. Instead, I prefer to watch those that love this dessert eat it with such delight. Since my initial trial, I have been baking this (yes baking…not steaming it) for special occasions and it gets requested for many extended family gatherings.

Actually, I made this for Christmas on our trip to Vietnam last year. Very few people have ovens in Vietnam, so, I was forced to steam it. Steaming it is actually the traditional Vietnamese way. Anyway, it turned out just as perfect as when I bake it. So…you could make this whatever way you prefer.

The ingredients are pretty basic and it’s fairly simple to put together as well. It’s best to make this dessert a day or two ahead of time so it is well chilled. I will use the word flan and creme caramel interchangeably.

I have modified the original recipe so much that I consider this my recipe now. Here is my version of Creme Caramel. I hope you enjoy it.


2 cans of Evaporated Milk

8 large eggs

1/2 cup and 3/4 cup white sugar (total of 1 and 1/4 cup)

1 can coconut milk OR 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract and 1/2 cup milk


Step 1:

Preheat the oven to 350deg F. Boil a kettle of water for the water bath.

In a 4 quart stainless pot, gently heat the evaporated milk and coconut milk. If you do not want to use coconut milk, just add 1 tsp of vanilla extract and add an additional 1/2 cup white milk (doesn’t have to be evaporated milk). I generally just use the vanilla and milk and it tastes just as good, if not better. Add 3/4 cup white sugar. Stir until it is dissolved and the milk just starts to boil. Bring heat to low and allow to simmer. Watch that the milk mixture doesn’t scald or overflow.

Heat up Evaporated Milk and Coconut Milk

Step 2:

In the meantime, prepare your caramel. In a small saucepan, heat up 1/2 cup white sugar. Many other recipes add water to the sugar, but, I prefer not to. Just hold the pan over med-high heat and constantly stir the dry sugar. Slowly, the sugar will start to form clumps, then melt into a uniform dark honey-brown.

Melting down sugar

Sugar is caramelizing

Sugar is completely caramelized

Step 3:

Immediately pour the hot caramel into your baking dish. Quickly swirl it around so it evenly coats the base of your baking dish. Set aside and allow the caramel to harden.

Pour hot caramel in baking dish

Quickly swirl caramel on base of dish before it cools down

Make sure caramel is evenly coated on base

Step 4:

Turn the heat off your milk mixture. Crack the eggs into a measuring cup as you will need to pour this into your milk mixture. If your measuring cup is big enough, you could beat the eggs using a hand-mixer or whisk first, then add them to the milk mixture. I just add the eggs slowly to the pot while beating on med-high. Did I mention to use a stainless steel pot?? You shouldn’t use metal beaters on non-stick pots. Once all eggs are in, beat an additional 1-2 minutes to make sure it is uniform and smooth in texture.

Beat in eggs one at a time

Step 5:

Pour egg mixture into prepared baking dish. The caramel should be hardened by now. You could also pour these into individual ramekins to have single servings. Just make sure your coat the bottom with the caramel first.

Pour egg mixture over hardened caramel base

Fill as high as possible

Step 6:

Now, you need to prepare your water bath. I use a sheet pan with 1 inch rims – but, you can use any pan that will comfortably hold your unbaked creme caramel dish. Place your creme caramel into the pan you are using for your water bath. Make sure there is at least 2 inches surrounding your creme caramel. Carefully place this into the oven and pour hot water in the outer pan and fill up as high as possible without spilling the water. Bake for 45 minutes or until it is slightly golden on top. The mixture might be a little jiggly still, but that’s okay. It will set once it has cooled completely.

Alternatively, you could set this in a steamer and do it stove top. Make sure there is water in the bottom of the pan, elevate the dish with the egg mix in the water bath, cover with a lid and steam it for 30 minutes or so.

egg mix sitting in water bath in oven

Baked creme caramel

Step 7:

Allow the creme caramel to cool down then put in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. It must be chilled completely. Once you are ready to serve, run a thin knife all the way around the edge. Go down all the way to the bottom of the mold. Place your serving plate upside-down on top of the mold. Make sure the plate is rimmed to catch all the liquified caramel. Quickly invert and slightly tap the bottom of the baking dish. You should feel a slight shock as the flan comes out and lands on your plate.

Place serving plate upside-down on flan

Quickly invert, tap and lift up

Creme Caramel

And, there you have it. Make 16 even slices and watch it disappear in no time!

Slice of Creme Caramel

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 12, 2010 6:14 am

    I am not one for eggy deserts either, but you have sold me on this one. Impressive! 🙂

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