Open any classical cookbook and all bets are on that a creme caramel recipe will be presented to you. Classical, however, does not mean forgotten or over the hill. Rather, it’s an era of greatness, ready and waiting for its turn to shine again. By adding a few simple ingredients, this beautiful and elegant dessert achieves said greatness by being not only delicious and regal, but also unique and conversation capturing. This recipe can be made up to two days prior to serving and, since it’s so simple to make, can be kept in your fridge as the go-to dessert on busy and unforgiving charters.
1 cup sugar (for caramel)
3 tblsp water
1/2 cup agave dark nectar
3 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream
4 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1/2 cup sugar (for creme)
2 tsp spearmint extract
In a non-stick pan, place the cup of sugar and water on med-high heat. Don’t let the pan get too hot to scorch the sugar before it dissolves.
Spray 12 4-ounce ramekins (or silicone moulds) with cooking spray and set aside.
Once the sugar is dissolved, quickly pour just enough into each ramekin, barely covering the bottom.
Lay a small kitchen towel (or five pieces of paper towel) in a large, deep-sided baking tray. Place the ramekins on the towel and set aside.
In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan on med/high heat, cook the agave for 3-5 minutes or until it has bubbled for 30 seconds. Add the cream, milk and Baileys. Bring to a boil, whisking regularly.
Whilst waiting for the cream mixture to come to a boil, whisk the eggs, remaining sugar, and spearmint extract until creamy.
As the cream mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and slowly pour it into the egg mixture, slowly whisking the egg mixture simultaneously. (Never add eggs to a hot mixture; always add hot to the cold mixture to avoid scrambling the eggs.)
Continue whisking softly to further incorporate the ingredients.
Pass the mixture through a sieve and into a pouring jug. Evenly distribute amongst the ramekins. (If you have any left, place the bowl in a larger bowl with ice and continue to whisk until cool. Place in an ice cream machine and either pair it with the caramel or save it for another day.)
Pour boiling water into the baking tray until the water reaches three-quarters of the way up the ramekins.
Carefully place the tray in a pre-heated oven at 325 degrees F. Cook for 20-40 minutes, depending on the true power of your oven, thickness of your baking tray and/or thickness of your ramekins/silicone moulds. Start checking the cremes after 20 minutes. If they have minimal “wobble”, they are done.
Remove the pan from the oven and let sit in the bath 10 minutes more. Remove to cool on a wire rack. Then refrigerate until needed.
To serve, run a ﬁne knife such as a bird’s beak around the edge of the ramekin, cover with a plate, and ﬂip. Tap a few times until the creme caramel is revealed. Garnish with micro (or regular) mint and serve!!
Mark Godbeer, a culinary-trained chef from South Africa, has been professionally cooking for more than 11 years, 9 of which have been on yachts (chefmarkgodbeer.com). Comments on this recipe are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.