Crème caramel

Posted by Brad Beattie on Mon 28 November 2016

Brad's Crème Caramel (Winner)

Brad's Crème Caramel

I've never actually had crème Caramel before, so I didn't quite know what I was shooting for. I started with two recipes (one for the crème and one for the caramel) that seemed representative of the photos I was seeing and then adapted them after a couple rounds of trial and error.

Caramel

  • 5 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon earth balance or other vegan margarine
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

We'll make the caramel first so that it can cool at the bottom of our cups or ramekins while we make our crème.

Mix all the ingredients in a small pot and heat while whisking until it starts to boil. We don't want it to burn, but we want to work off some of that moisture. Remove and whisk, return and whisk, repeating until it starts to smell right and it starts to thicken a bit.

When ready, pour this mixture into your four cups and let them chill in the fridge.

Crème

  • 1 cup almond milk (The variety matters here as some such as Blue Diamond are far too thin. Silk did a pretty decent job.)
  • 3/4 cup coconut cream nog (I used So Delicious', but I gather you could get away with straight coconut cream.)
  • 1 tablespoon brown or coconut sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon agar powder
  • 1 tablesoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small pot, mix together the almond milk, coconut cream nog, and sugar. Start to heat the mixture at medium to medium-high heat.

Meanwhile in a small cup, mix together the agar powder, arrowroot powder, and vanilla extract (adding a little water to help it mix). When there are no lumps in secondary mixture, add it into the small pot and whisk.

Like we did with the caramel, remove and whisk, return and whisk until it starts to thicken up, likely moreso than the caramel did.

Pour the crème on top of the partially cooled caramel and return to the fridge to chill and set (a few hours at least).

Variation notes

I tried varying a number of properties to my tastes. Your milage my vary.

  • Fattiness of the crème (all almond milk isn't rich enough, all coconut cream is way too rich)
  • Solidity of the crème (1/4 teaspoon agar powder is far too little, 3/4 teaspoon is way too much)
  • Saltiness of the caramel
  • Viscosity of the caramel

Laura's Crème Caramel

Laura's Crème Caramel

(adapted from a recipe by Amy Chaplin)

Crème

  • 3/4 cup macadamia nuts (soaked for around 6 hours)
  • 2 cups plus 2 teaspoons water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons agar flakes
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot powder

Drain and rinse the macadamia nuts and put them in a blender with two cups of water. Blend at high speed until smooth. (I blended for around two minutes, but feel like blending longer might have been better). Pour the nut milk into a pot and begin to heat over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean and scrape its seeds into the milk, then add the whole bean, as well. Add the sugar, agar flakes and salt. Whisk to combine, and continue to whisk frequently until the mixture comes to a boil. Cover the pot, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, whisking every five minutes or so. Meanwhile, combine the arrowroot powder with 2 teaspoons of water. After the milk mixture has infused for its 15 minutes, add the arrowroot mixture, whisking until it has thickened. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool while you make the caramel.

Caramel

  • 100 g sugar
  • water

Put the sugar in a small pot with enough water to cover it. Place over high heat. And stir to combine a bit, while the mixture comes to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, do not touch it. Leave it to boil rapidly. The liquid will turn golden brown. This is where you have to pay attention, or you will just get a hot mess. Once it turns deep golden, it's ready (this happen like crazy soon after the light golden, apparently, though I feel like the first time I made it I went over and the second time, I went under, so who am I to say, really?) Once the caramel is done, pour it into 4 ramekins. Top with the creme and put in the fridge to set for about an hour.

Comments from the taste testers

  • "Laura's reminds me of oatmeal. No! I mean that in a good way! Oatmeal is my comfort food." - Andrea
  • "It took me five iterations to perfect the jiggle." - Brad
  • "I think I'm going to give Brad the win. His caramel is clearly better." - Dan