On my latest trip to Houston I decided to watch a Craftsy class, The Art of Caramel, and when I returned home, I wanted to make something from it, so I chose a classic, crème caramel (or flan). This version turned out well, although I did use a few pans and bowls making it. This recipe is enough for 6 servings.
2/3 cup + ½ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ tsp. salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
½ tsp. vanilla extract or paste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the water bath.
Coat 6 oven-proof ramekins, custard cups, or small bowls with cooking spray, dabbing off any excess. Place the cups on a baking dish at least as deep as the bowls. Since I was using flared custard cups, I needed a large lasagna pan and a small lasagna pan to fit all 6 cups.
Place the 2/3 cup of sugar in a heavy-duty 1 quart saucepan over medium heat, and let it cook until the sugar starts to melt. When that happens, use a silicon spatula to gently drag the melted sugar toward the center of the pan. Do not stir, since that will produce clumping. When all the sugar has melted and is an amber color, quickly pour the melted sugar into each of the cups, tilting the cups if necessary to coat the entire bottom. Work quickly since the caramelized sugar will set up very quickly as it cools.
In a heavy-duty 2 quart saucepan, pour the milk and cream, and add the salt. Cook over medium heat until the mixture has bubbles on the edges. Pour the hot mixture into a 2 cup liquid measuring cup to facilitate pouring.
In a stand mixer, whip together the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla until frothy. Slowly mix in the ½ cup of sugar until well-blended. While the mixer is running, pour the milk/cream mixture in a steady stream until well blended. Pour the egg/milk/cream mixture through a sieve into a large measuring cup to filter out any accidentally scrambled eggs, and then pour the filtered mixture into the 6 baking cups. Pour enough boiling water in the baking dish to go halfway up the sides of the cups. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cups comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
Remove the baking dish from the oven, and the cups from the water bath. Cool on a rack, and then cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator.
To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the custard. Put a plate on top of the cup and then invert them. The custard will drop onto the plate. Scrape off any caramel sauce which remains in the cup and add it to the sauce on the plate.