I love a good crème caramel and this version infused with orange, cardamom and cointreau is stunning, taking a simple dessert to a Class A level of wow factor. It’s neither particularly difficult nor expensive to throw together and more often than not, all the ingredients are ready and close to hand for a just-in-time dessert option. To up the ante on the wow factor, my serving suggestions include presenting it with thick farm cream, crème fraiche or Greek style yoghurt coupled with a smattering of either raspberries or blueberries.
The accompanying bevvy: Seppeltsfield’s Para DP90 Rare Tawny with its seductive plump, sticky mouthfeel and warm spice, honey and walnut notes is my choice for a blissful union.
For the crème:300ml milk (for a richer custard, replace half of the milk with pouring cream) 50ml orange juice tablespoon of Cointreau 100gm caster sugar zest of an orange 3 large eggs 2 egg yolks large pinch of ground cardamom
For the caramel:150ml orange juice 140gm caster sugar
MethodPreheat the oven to 150C – 160C. Prepare a roasting dish or similar for use as a bain-marie (I use a rectangular glass ovenproof roasting dish with handles). You will need boiling water to add to the bain-marie when the crème is placed in the oven. For the crème renversée use an 18cm round ovenproof dish. I start the crème first, preparing the milk mix. While the milk mixture is infusing, I prepare the caramel. You will need a pastry brush and a glass of cold water alongside the saucepan as you prepare the caramel.
For the crème:Bring milk, orange juice and orange zest to the simmer in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat before it boils. Add the Cointreau and allow it to infuse for 20 minutes. This is the point where I prepare the caramel, before returning to complete the crème. Once the caramel is done and set aside, whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and cardamom in a bowl. Try to avoid creating too many bubbles in the mix. Strain the milk mixture then slowly add it to the egg and sugar mixture, stirring it through.
For the caramel:Simmer the orange juice in a heavy based saucepan over medium to high heat until the juice is reduced by half. Increase to high heat and add the sugar stirring it until it’s dissolved, while doing so brushing down the sides with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals sticking to the side of the saucepan (refresh the pastry brush in the glass of water, as required). Cook over high heat for 4 minutes or so, until the mixture turns to a dark caramel. Immediately pour the caramel into the 18cm ovenproof dish and swirl it around so that it coats the base and sides. Allow the caramel to stand for about 15 minutes to set.
To prepare for baking:When the stars are aligned and you have the caramel set and the custard crème prepared, pour the custard mix on top of the caramel. Place the dish in the bain-marie and pour boiling water into the bain-marie so that the water comes half way up the sides of the dish with the crème. Cover the crème with alfoil. Bake custard for about 50 minutes to an hour – it is ready when the custard is firm but still has a slight wobble in the centre. You may wish to remove the alfoil for the last 5 minutes or so of baking. When cooked, remove the dish from the bain-marie and allow the custard to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for a couple of hours until chilled.