Crème caramel is a variant of plain custard (crème) where some sugar syrup, cooked to caramel stage, is poured into the mold before adding the custard base. It is usually cooked in a bain-marie on a stove top or in the oven. It is turned out like crème renversée and served with the caramel sauce on top. (Source: Wikipedia)
I have made Caramel Custard a couple of times and that was only method I learnt from my mom. She graced her well chalked meals with desserts like these for parties and get-together when we were kids. That was a thing of the past. That apart, the regular custard is so common in Indian homes, that it needs no mention here. I always have a stock of pudding mix for those uncalled occasions of sweet tooth tantrums, when I like to whip up some simple fruit salad or may be just plain custard to accompany a scoop of ice cream. A craving again for some Crème Caramel hit hard on me recently and out of the blue, I decided to attempt an eggless version of Crème Caramel.
Eggless Crème Caramel
30 gms of sugar
1 tbsp water
Store bought custard/pudding mix or homemade custard base as per the procedure mentioned here
1 tbsp agar agar
25 ml cream
Make the Caramel base:
Sprinkle about 25-30 gm of sugar along with a tablespoon of water and heat it on a pan. Swirl the pan across the heat gently and let the sugar just begin to melt. Do not stir it. Keep an eye on the sugar as it begins to melt and change the color to amber. There's a thin line of difference between caramelizing and charring. Once the sugar gets a nice golden amber color, it's close to caramelization. It will soon take over a deeper golder brown glow. Remove from the flame immediately as the heat will make it darker further. If it darkens too much, it will take over a bitter taste. So be careful and quick with this. You can prepare this caramel either in the custard mould or transfer the prepared caramel to moulds and allow to set. Transfer it quickly as it will harden in no time. In case it hardens before you transfer to the moulds, you warm up the caramel again which will liquefy the syrup. Do not touch as it will be hot enough to burn your hand.
Prepare the custard:
Prepare the custard as per the procedure mentioned here. If using a store bought pack, follow the instructions as on the pack and prepare the custard/pudding adjusting the sweetness to your taste. Dissolve a tablespoon of agar agar in 25 ml of cream and bring it to a boil. When the flakes dissolve, add this to the prepared custard and whisk well. Once prepared pour the hot custard into the caramel prepared moulds. Cover with a cling film and allow it to set well in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. It's best to leave it overnight.
The procedure to make pralines is similar to preparing the caramel base mentioned above. Heat a tbsp of sugar with half a tbsp of water and swirl the pan gently, till it reaches caramelization point. Once it turns to thick golden amber color remove it from heat immediately and spread on a greased plate. Allow it cool completely. Using a mortar pestle, crush the praline roughly. You can use nuts like roughly broken almonds and cashews to make nutty pralines.
Pralines give nice crunch to desserts and can be used to top ice creams too. Pralines tend to absorb moisture, hence should be served fresh on desserts.
I adore vanilla flavors and as traditionally claimed my Crème Caramel has it's custard base flavored with vanilla. I may probably want to try more flavors in future, but I leave that to my mood. This dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel is normally served cold. I topped this with some homemade crunchy pralines before serving them, just a sprinkle of pralines for a light crunch, also to keep it low on sweet.
I am sending this dessert to Ally where she's hosting Delicious Desserts which comes with a yummy dessert book as a giveaway!