The Best Crème Caramel You’ll Ever Have

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.)

  1. Hi ! I have cooked this creme last week and we have realy like it ! Thanks for this recipe !
    (and sorry for my english)

  2. Joanna! Please make a cookbook of all of these when you have enough! I would love to have a “best of”‘s book in my kitchen… every one of these recipes that you have collected from these talented home cooks really has been the best I’ve had of….

  3. Yum! The recipe looks great! I love creme caramel…my most favorite is from here:
    www. and the best part is they deliver =)

  4. So generous for sharing the recipe. Thnks a lot :):)

  5. I have LOVED creme caramel since i was a kid, my mum used to make it often :) though…. it was out of a packet :) still scrumptious though :) xx

  6. I wonder where I can find a mold pan like that? So gorgeous!

  7. I just love creme caramel – thanks for reminding me to make it!

  8. Also, Brazilian have a very similar desert and my (totally biased, I admit) opinion, tastes even better. It’s the 1,2,3 recipe and works every time. 1 can of condensed milk, using the same can to measure 2 cans of whole milk, and 3 eggs. Whisk well, pour over caramel and bake for 1h on medium heat. Make sure the water you use for the bain-marie is already hot. Once ready, let it cool and put in the fridge for the night. It’s amazing the next day! :)

  9. I think one key detail was left out: you should use boiling water for the bain-marie.

  10. holy crap this looks delicious!!!

  11. I need this in my life. My mothers friends make a really good Flan, not sure if it exactly the same, but I think it’s a Filipino thing, and oh it is so good.

    I think I need to get my granny on this pronto!

    I am Pisces

  12. yes, mimi is so awesome. every photo on her blog looks like a Vogue shoot.

  13. Yum! It sounds pretty much like flan. I make it with condensed milk, evaporated milk, one whole egg and five egg yolks, which makes the custard very dense. I’m dying to have some right now!

  14. Yum! The dessert looks delicious! But I’m really in love with the plates that are being used…they’re delicate and fancy, with a fun little quirkiness!

  15. I love this dessert. In Portugal this is a very common dessert. Is one of my all time favourites. Here we call it Pudim.

  16. Here in the Philippines we call this Leche Flan. It’s one of my favorite desserts! I’d like to believe that my aunt makes the best flan in the world and I’ve always wanted to learn how to make one but it’s a painful process lol. So difficult to perfect that’s why I’m just always after the finish product. Haha.

    The photo above looks insanely delicious btw. I’m starving at 1:50am here :)

    <a href=”’>another day to wander</a>

  17. I love creme caramel but am too scared to make it!

  18. This looks so delicious! And the recipe looks easy enough to follow, will have to try out! This’d be so cute in baby mason jars!

  19. i learned to make an easier version of it (pudim) in a Brazilian shantytown, and it was soooo good! so i can’t wait to try this one :). thanks for this post Joanna!

  20. This is the most common dessert in my little island – Sri Lanka :-)of course I believe we got it from the Portuguese. This is even easier to make it with condensed milk… you just have to put one can with one can of water… to make it in the microwave it would take only 15 mins max :D a nice dessert to make if you are in a rush… So you get a microwavable dish and put sugar, very little water, vanilla, and the lemon juice and put it in the microwave for 3 mins. The caramel would be ready then. Afterwards you can add the pudding mix you prepared, pour it on top of it and but back to the microwave for 10 mins. Note: you should beat the mix very less just using a folk, that makes the pudding creamier :) to make things interesting you may try adding some nutmeg too :D

  21. So lovely – what a beautiful dessert.

  22. This looks absolutely divine! My husband and I love flan. He spent some time in Brazil and loved the flan down there so we are always on a quest to find the best out there! Thank you for the recipe! I cannot even wait to try it out!


  23. Looks amazing, and so does Mimi’s blog!

  24. Dear Joanna,

    It’s not only for the French. In Texas (where I live) and other cities where Mexican/Latino culture is part of life, this is known as flan! :)


  25. This looks very similar to my Brazilian mother’s flan! I do love the mold that you put it in, so chic!

  26. This looks beautiful – although it is definitely one of those desserts where everyone has a different way of making it!! I’ve had it so many times, all over the world and made often in very slightly different ways. Always delicious though :)

    Great photos!!

  27. My favorite treat, as well! Oh, I loved both the picture and the words! Now, to find a creme caramel as lovely as the post, that is the challenge!

  28. Crème caramel is one of my favoruite sweet treats! After looking at those scrumptious photos, I have to make some this week:) Yum! Happy Wednesday. xoxo

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