Custards baked in individual ramekins cook faster, are more evenly textured, and un-mold more easily, so you’ll need 8 un-greased 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins. And for my keto friends, here’s a low-carb version.
Classic Crème Caramel
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
1-1/2 cups pasture-raised whole milk
1-1/2 cups pasture-raised cream
3 large pasture-raised eggs
2 large egg yolks (from pasture-raised eggs)
2/3 cup granulated sugar (as little as 1/3 C. also works)
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
A pinch of sea salt
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Though you can make one large creme caramel, we find that You can vary the amount of sugar in the custard to suit your taste. Most tasters preferred the full two-thirds cup, but you can reduce that amount to as little as one-half cup to create a greater contrast between the custard and the sweetness of the caramel.
FOR THE CARAMEL
Note: Cook the caramel in a pan with a light-colored interior, since a dark surface makes it difficult to judge the color of the syrup. Caramel can leave a real mess in a pan, but it is easy to clean. Simply boil lots of water in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes to loosen the hardened caramel.
In a medium nonreactive saucepan and without stirring, bring sugar, water, corn syrup, and lemon juice to simmer over medium-high heat, wiping sides of pan with wet cloth to remove any sugar crystals that might cause syrup to turn grainy. Continue to cook until syrup turns from clear to golden, swirling pan gently to ensure even browning, about 8 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan gently and constantly, until large, slow bubbles on mixture’s surface turn honey-caramel in color, 4 to 5 minutes longer. Remove pan immediately from heat and, working quickly but carefully (the caramel is over 300 degrees and will burn you if it touches your skin), pour about 1/4″ of the caramel into each of 8 un-greased 6-ounce ovenproof ramekins. Allow caramel to cool and harden, about 15 minutes. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 days; return to room temperature before adding custard.)
FOR THE CUSTARD
Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat milk, cream, and sugar, stirring occasionally, in medium saucepan over medium heat until steam appears and/or an instant-read thermometer held in the liquid registers 160 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes; remove from heat. Meanwhile, gently whisk eggs, and yolks in large bowl until just combined. Off heat—gently and continuously—whisk warm (160 degrees or less) milk mixture, salt, and vanilla into eggs until just combined but not at all foamy. Strain mixture through fine mesh sieve into large measuring cup or container with pouring spout; set aside.
Bring 2 quarts water to boil in a kettle. Meanwhile, fold a clean dish towel to fit bottom of large baking dish or roasting pan and position in pan. Divide reserved custard mixture among ramekins; place filled ramekins on towel in pan (making sure they do not touch) and set pan on oven rack. Fill pan with boiling water to reach halfway up ramekins; cover entire pan loosely with aluminum foil so steam can escape. Bake until a paring knife inserted halfway between center and edge of the custards comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer custards to wire rack; cool to room temperature (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 2 days.)
To un-mold, slide a paring knife around entire mold perimeter, pressing knife against side of the dish. Hold serving plate over top of ramekin and invert; set plate on work surface and shake ramekin gently to release custard. Serve immediately.