Creme caramel is a dessert that is pretty easy to make. I generally flavor it with vanilla and orange or rum, but today I decided to try infusing it with some basil. The result was a lovely, creamy custard with a subtle anise-like flavor. It can be made in a 1 qt. ceramic oven-safe dish or in 6 to 8 ramekins, depending on their size. For maximum creaminess, I suggest baking it in a bain-marie, or hot water bath. This will ensure that the custard bakes evenly and does not develop a hard crust on the sides. So, find a pan that comfortably holds the dish or ramekins with a little room to spare for the hot water.
whole milk 16 oz.
fresh basil leaves 1 TBS
sugar 1/4cup (57g)
pure vanilla extract 1 1/2 tsp.
Heat the milk in a pan until it barely comes to a boil. Remove from heat and add the basil. Leave milk to infuse for 10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Whisk hot milk gradually into egg mixture. Strain mixture back into the pan and set aside.
sugar 3/4 cup (150 g)
honey 1 tsp.
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Line up your ramekins, if using, or the 1 qt. dish. Make sure they are room temp, as this will help you later when you line them with caramel.
Pour sugar and honey into a shallow pan. Add a little water, give it a quick stir and begin heating until a syrup forms. You do not want this syrup to crystallize, and the honey helps prevent this. Also, try to resist stirring it now, as any sugar crystals that may have formed on the spoon could crystallize your syrup. So continue cooking the syrup, watching it carefully as it turns a dark amber color. Do not walk away, as once it begins to change color, it happens quickly. When it reaches that color, remove it immediately from the heat and pour it into the dish and (carefully, this stuff it really hot!) swirl it around to coat the base and slightly climb the sides. If you are making creme caramel for the first time, you might want to make it in one pan and save the ramekins for the next time, since they are a bit trickier to coat.
Pour your custard into your caramel-coated dish (or ramekins) and place it in the larger pan. Fill a teapot or other spouted pot with hot tap water and pour the hot water into the larger pan around the custard-filled dish, being careful not to splash the custard. Place in the oven and bake until custard is set around perimeter, but a bit wobbly in the center, 35 – 50 minutes, depending on dish/ramekin size. Remove from oven and allow to cool in its water bath. Once cool, carefully remove dish from water, dry the bottom and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours. it can be served directly from the bowl or inverted onto a plate. To do this, run a table knife around the edge of dish, place the plate on top, and turn them over together. The custard will slide out.