The perfect Crème Caramel is silky smooth with a velvety texture. Sous vide is the way to achieve this perfection. It allows for precise temperature control which is the key to producing the perfect crème caramel.
Crème Caramel is the Master Taste Tester’s absolute favorite dessert. I’ve been making it for years using the traditional technique of baking it in the oven in a water bath. I wondered if the sous vide technique would work. Guess what? It not only worked, but also produced a crème caramel that was beyond silky smooth! The Master Taste Tester proclaimed that from now on, I should use sous vide – the ultimate compliment.
Ingredients for Crème Caramel:
Crème caramel has two distinct components. The first is the characteristic caramel top and syrup. For this, I used granulated sugar and water. The second is the custard. I used eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, half and half, and whole milk. Such simple ingredients for such an incredible dessert.
Making the Custard Mixture:
I started by making the custard mixture. First, I lightly whisked the sugar and vanilla extract with egg yolks and eggs. Then, I tempered the eggs by whisking in about a quarter cup of hot half and half, and whole milk. Next, I added the remaining hot half and half and milk, and lightly whisked the mixture until it was combined. I always make the custard mixture in a large measuring cup so that its easy to pour into the baking dishes. In addition, I make sure that the whisking is minimal to keep from adding too many air bubbles. Finally, I let the custard mixture rest for at least 30 minutes to allow the egg whites to naturally break down a bit.
Making the Caramel:
While the custard mixture was resting, I made the caramel. I added sugar and water to a small saucepan. Without stirring, I heated the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolved and the mixture was clear. This took about 5 minutes.
Then, I covered the pan and increased the heat to medium high to allow the caramel to color. Covering the pan is actually a critical step in producing the perfect caramel. The reason is that it prevents the sugar from crystallizing. After about 6 minutes, the caramel was perfectly colored. I removed the pan from the heat, and quickly divided the caramel among six wide-mouth 8-ounce mason jars that I had lightly greased with unsalted butter.
Finishing the Sous Vide Crème Caramel:
I let the caramel cool while I prepared the sous vide water bath. For this, I heated the water to precisely 176° F. When the water had reached temperature, I divided custard mixture evenly among the six jars using a wire mesh strainer. I use the strainer to ensure that the mixture is perfectly smooth.
After that, I added the two-piece lids, and only finger tightened them. I didn’t want the lids too tight because otherwise, the air pressure wouldn’t be able to escape and jars could shatter. I carefully lowered the jars into the water bath.
Once the water had returned to 176° F, I let the custard cook for one hour and 30 minutes.
I removed the jars from the water bath to a wire rack. I knew that a potential issue of using sous vide was that condensation couldn’t escape during cooking like it could in the oven. Therefore, I removed the tops of the jars, and carefully wiped excess condensation from the sides using a paper towel. After the custard had cooled a bit, I screwed on the tops, and placed the crème caramel in the refrigerator to cool completely.
I ended up with six totally amazing crème caramel desserts. The sous vide technique produced a silky smooth texture that was heavenly to taste. Yum!
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Sous Vide Crème Caramel
- 2 large eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup (4.7 ounces, 133 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (8 ounces, 227 grams) half and half
- 1 cup (8 ounces, 227 grams) whole milk
- 3/4 cup (5.25 ounces, 149 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons (1.5 ounces, 43 grams) water
- Lightly grease six 8-ounce wide mouth mason jars; set aside.
- Add egg yolks and eggs to 4-cup mixing cup. Lightly whisk in 2/3 cup of sugar and vanilla extract. Heat half and half and milk in microwave for 2 minutes, or until hot. Whisk in about 1/4 cup of hot liquid to egg mixture to temper the eggs. Lightly whisk in remaining half and half and milk, making sure to minimize the creation of air bubbles. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Add 3/4 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons water to a small saucepan. Heat over medium heat without stirring until sugar melts and liquid is clear, about 5 minutes. Cover pan with tight fitting lid; increase heat to medium high and cook syrup without stirring until syrup is colored, about 6 minutes. Watch closely because this step occurs pretty quickly.Carefully divide syrup among six prepared jars, swirling jars to evenly distribute syrup. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Finishing the Sous Vide Crème Caramel
- Heat sous vide water bath to 176° F.
- Divide custard mixture among six jars with caramel using a wire strainer.
- Top jars with two-piece lids; only tighten finger-tight. If you tighten the tops too much, the pressure buildup inside the jars cannot escape, and the jars may shatter.
- When sous vide water bath has reached 176° F, carefully add jars; cook crème caramel for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Remove from water bath to wire cooling rack. Remove the lids; wipe excess condensation with paper towel. Allow to cool.
- Return lids and refrigerate.
- When ready to serve, run a thin knife around the inside of the jars to loosen the crème caramel. Transfer to a serving plate. If desired, add fresh fruit. Serve.
- Yield: 6 Sous Vide Crème Caramel desserts.