It may seem difficult to make, but is just the opposite... so simple and easy, you will make this over and over again.
For the creme ( all must be at room temperature )
8 large eggs
2/3 cups sugar
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 quart milk ( 1 liter )
few drops Rum essence
For the caramel
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons water
This recipe will make 4 larger individual portions, or 6-8 smaller ones. You can divide or multiply the recipe to suit your needs.
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F ( 180 C )
Make the caramel:
In a sauce pan put the sugar and water over medium low heat, and cook until it gets glossy and turns a golden/amber color.
The deeper the color of the caramel, it will taste more bitter, so you must be very careful at this point. It is very easy to over heat it, and it will be too bitter to eat. You must take it off the heat just a tad before it gets to the color desired, as it will continue to darken even after. Also please be careful, as this is very hot, so handle with much care, using protective mittens and a deeper pan.
This is the color I usually go for, but I like the caramel to be just a little bitter, so if you don't like that, take it off the heat sooner, while it is lighter. Place it when ready in an ice bath for few seconds to stop the cooking.
You must let it cool and harden. If you want to speed up the process put them in the freezer for few minutes. You will know they are ready and cool when the caramel will start cracking. Love that sound!
While the caramel cools, it is time to prepare the custard.
In the bowl of your mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the 8 eggs on medium low just until combined, add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat on medium-low ( I use 3 on my KitchenAid ) for about 3-4 minutes. Slowly add the milk and beat until well combined and the sugar dissolves, another 5-7 minutes. The reason it needs to be beaten on lower speed is that you don't want to incorporate air in it. If it gets airy and foamy just let it mix for longer on the lowest speed, in order to take out all the bubbles.
Now pour the mixture in the caramel covered dishes. You can fill them as it will not inflate while baking.
Place them in the oven in a pan filled with water, just like you do with a cheesecake, and bake for one hour if you use one big dish, or 40 minutes if you used ramekins. The smaller the dish the shorter the baking time. When a golden crust forms on top, it is done. Careful not to over bake, as the caramel on bottom will start boiling, making the custard on top spongy, and we don't want that to happen. You want the custard to be smooth and creamy.
Take them out of the oven and sprinkle the top with few rum essence drops, then let them cool on a wire rack. Chill in the fridge for several hours, to set. They are best served cold.
But I cannot count the times I didn't have patience and just ate it warm... it is still delicious!
These are cooling right now, and I can't wait to have some!
You can also use really small ramekins, and make a bunch of them for a party, as they will look very cute.
You can carefully loosen the edges and turn them on a plate, having the caramel on top, especially if you used a cake mold, and have a very pretty presentation, or just serve them in the dishes they baked in, it will taste and look as great either way.
Enjoy and thanks for reading!