Saturday, 12 March 2011

Honey Crème Caramels

There's something a bit 1980s about food at the moment. When once it was considered tired, old hat and completely unacceptable, the likes of prawn cocktails, chicken Kiev and Black Forest Gateau are appearing on menus again and that's completely fine by me.

In this ever-fickle world, it is easy to forget the things that made us what we are. I'm not asking for a nostalgic look at everything that we consumed, wore or listened too 'back in the day', but why get snobbish about things that you once loved? And why always yearn for something new and 'challenging'?

We've been hitting the nostalgia trail today, teaching my daughter one of her new favourite puddings, the long lost crème caramel. We usually buy in those ready-made efforts, all crinkled in their plastic houses with a satisfying puddle of watery caramel at the bottom of every one.

Of course, homemade food - if made correctly - is usually better every time. The key to a successful crème caramel is to keep your oven low, GM1 or 140C, and to keep your little custards in a bath of hot water to ensure slow and gentle cooking to give you that silky smooth set custard. The result is really satisfying as each spoonful gives a resounding 'squelch' sound and the cold smoothness sinks down with ease.

I made an alternative to the caramel as I had a little extra custard left over, so rather than pour in caramel to the remaining mould I put in honey. It was delicious and avoided the risk of the hot caramel curdling the custard or even worse, being stuck in the end. Give them a go and bring back nostalgic grub to your menu.

Honey Crème Caramels
Makes 4-5

4 medium eggs
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod, deseeded
450ml whole milk
Runny honey

1 - Pre-heat the oven to GM1/140C.
2 - In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla seeds. Pour in the milk, whisk then pour through a sieve into a jug.
3 - Lightly grease 4-5 moulds. At this stage you can make a simple caramel by slowly heating 150g sugar and a little water in a pan without stirring until it turns golden brown. Or go for my version by pouring in a couple of tablespoons of runny honey into each mould.
4 - Gently pour in the custard to fill the moulds. Place into a baking tray with sides and pour in hot water to fill at least halfway up the moulds.
5 - Place in the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the custards have a very slight 'wobble' when shaken.
6 - Remove from the oven, then the water and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge. Serve cold with or without berries.