Have you guys ever had crème caramel? The chilled custard flan (in a pool of caramel!) is a delicious French dessert, which my mom used to make every time we had guests. “When we moved to France, I took cooking lessons at a French woman’s apartment, and she showed us how to make it,” my mom told me. The recipe for crème caramel may look tricky but “it’s really cool to know how,” she says. “Once you master the caramel, it’s not hard.” Well, lucky for us, the gorgeous blogger Mimi Thorisson, who lives the French countryside with her husband, kids and fourteen dogs (!), agreed to share her all-time go-to recipe…

The Best Crème Caramel You’ll Ever Have By Mimi Thorisson of Manger

My French grandmother loved making this dessert. I always remember how the lovely caramel perfumed her kitchen; it’s the kind of sweet smell any child would dream about. Watching her make caramel was a treat; it looked like magic, seeing the white sugar turn into a golden brown caramel. This is why crème caramel is my favorite dessert—it’s the ultimate family food that warms my heart. She added a little lemon rind to make the taste extra special. This grand classic is very easy to make—you just need to be careful and patient with the caramel.

Recipe: Crème Caramel

You’ll need:

For the caramel:
Scant 1/2 cup caster sugar (or superfine sugar)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp. hot water

For the rest of the recipe:
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup regular sugar
½ tsp. lemon rind
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
4 eggs

You’ll also need a ramekin mold, charlotte mold or dariole mold.

What to do:

Pre-heat oven to 300F/150° celsius.

To make the caramel: On low heat, melt the caster sugar, lemon juice and water in a saucepan. Let the mixture melt. It’s very important not to stir until the color starts to turn golden. At this point, shake the pan, until the color slowly turns to caramel golden brown. Take away from heat, and pour immediately into the mold. Be careful not to burn yourself as caramel temperature is burning hot. Swirl your mold in a circular motion so the edges get covered in the caramel.

Heat milk in a saucepan. When it starts to boil, lower the heat, and add sugar, lemon rind, vanilla and salt. Stir, leave for one minute and set aside.

Whisk four eggs in a large bowl, and pour in the warm vanilla milk. Make sure to whisk continuously while you are doing this so the eggs don’t coagulate. Pour the egg mixture into the caramel-lined mold.

Place your mold in a large roasting tin, pour hot water so it comes up to nearly two-thirds of the mold. This process is called ‘bain-marie.’ Bake for 55 minutes—if your knife comes out clean then it’s ready. It should feel springy and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Once cool, leave in the fridge for a least an hour so it chills.

When you are ready to serve, gently loosen the sides with a palette knife. Place a serving dish on top and turn upside down. You can tap the top with a spoon to facilitate the un-molding. Be patient. You should have a lovely crème caramel, with a pool of golden caramel on the sides.

Thanks, Mimi! How fun would it be to serve this at a dinner party?

P.S. More best recipes

(Photos by Mimi Thorisson. Thanks to Shoko for helping with this series.)