You Can Make Creme Caramel (& a Giveaway)

Crème Caramel is a smooth, creamy custard topping with rich dark caramel.  Elegant enough for company and easy enough for everyday, it’s a top contender for perfect dessert.  

Crème Caramel is a smooth, creamy custard topping with rich dark caramel. Elegant enough for company and easy enough for an everyday treat, it’s a top contender for perfect dessert.

Creme Caramel dotted with fruit

Crème Caramel is the darling of baked custards.  Think creamy custard with a golden crown of caramel. It’s been on my “to try” list, well… forever.    

I had my first crème caramel in college, when I studied for a semester in Ireland.  My host “mother” was a Cordon Bleu cook and this was a favorite dinner dessert.  Yes, eat an amazing meal, then top it off with a touch of something sweet!  

Crème Caramel is a smooth, creamy custard topping with rich dark caramel. Elegant enough for company and easy enough for an everyday treat, it’s a top contender for perfect dessert.

Creme Caramel is just as pretty closeup

In the end, however, it was Nielsen-Massy, the vanilla folks, who gave me the push I needed to try it myself.  The sent me a bottle of their vanilla paste which meant I needed something delicious to do with it!

That’s because Nielsen-Massey vanilla paste is one of my favorite baking ingredients.  Consisting of thousands (gazillions?) of tasty vanilla beans in a creamy paste, your dessert gets loads of beautiful vanilla beans without any more work than vanilla extract! 

If you take a close look at the picture below you can even see the vanilla beans dotting the caramel.  Not that I’m into flagrant vanilla bean flaunting or anything.   

Of course, when I finally tried making Crème Caramel, I was delighted with how easy it turned out to be and have a few tips to share. 

First, custard recipes often call for scalding the milk ahead of time, which most sources agree is probably a carryover from before pasteurization.  And if you mix eggs and hot milk, you risk “scrambling” your eggs (not creamy).  Instead I combine everything while cool, then stir the mix over medium heat until it is slightly warm and the sugar has dissolved.  Easy peasy.

Second, rather than rely on the “jiggle test” to tell if the custard is done baking, I take its temperature with an instant read thermometer. Jiggling usually gets me a slightly overcooked custard (a custard is a bit overcooked if there are tiny bubbles around the outside–still delicious, just not as creamy), while an instant read thermometer is far more reliable.  Sources differ on the best temperature to shoot for, but it is somewhere under 180 F (unless your custard includes a starch like flour or cornstarch which raises the temperature tolerance of the eggs).  I use 175 F as my goal. 

remove from oven

I use a slotted pancake turner to remove dishes (having sloshed water into my prior creme brulee)

Finally, something unique to this custard, you actually need to let it sit in the refrigerator a while to allow the top layer of caramel to soften and melt into the custard.  Fine Cooking says at least 12 hours and I found that the more time I waited, the more caramel melded into the custard (up to 48 hours; it never lasted longer).  But even after a couple days, some of the caramel may remained in the baking dish.  This is normal; just soak to remove. 

Of course, that wait time makes Crème Caramel the perfect “make ahead” dish.  Not that I ever need extra time the day of a dinner party.  

Crème Caramel is a smooth, creamy custard topping with rich dark caramel. Elegant enough for company and easy enough for an everyday treat, it’s a top contender for perfect dessert.

Easter? Mother’s Day?

Yup, Easter and Mother’s Day are coming!  Just sayin’…

nielsen-Massey Vanilla Paste

Vanilla Paste — Mmm!

Want to try for yourself?  Then consider this giveaway, sponsored by Nielsen-Massey, for one bottle of Nielsen-Massey vanilla paste, an approximate $25 retail value.  It is open to mailing addresses in the US and closes at midnight CDT on April 1. To enter, leave a comment below telling me if you’ve tried any good new recipes recently. For a second entry, sign up for Art of Natural Living emails (below my picture) and leave me a second comment, letting me know you did (or that you already subscribe). The winner will be picked randomly, contacted by email and have 24 hours to get back to me or a new winner will be chosen.  

Crème Caramel is a smooth, creamy custard topping with rich dark caramel. Elegant enough for company and easy enough for an everyday treat, it’s a top contender for perfect dessert.


Crème Caramel
Serves 4
Crème Caramel is a smooth, creamy custard topping with rich dark caramel. Elegant enough for company and easy enough for an everyday treat, it’s a top contender for perfect dessert.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
8 hr
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
8 hr
365 calories
49 g
186 g
17 g
7 g
9 g
202 g
113 g
47 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 365
Calories from Fat 147
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 17g
Saturated Fat 9g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 186mg
Sodium 113mg
Total Carbohydrates 49g
Dietary Fiber 1g
Sugars 47g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 1/2 cup sugar
  2. 2 T water
  1. 1 cup whole milk
  2. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  3. 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  4. pinch of salt
  5. 2 large eggs
  6. 1 large egg yolk (you can freeze the white for later)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
  8. (Optional) Berries and herb leaves for garnish
Prepare caramel
  1. Take out 4 small ramekins and have them ready to go.
  2. In a small saucepan, add the sugar and water for the caramel. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, without stirring (stirring cooking sugar will cause crystallization) until the mixture starts to turn golden around the edges, 5 to 8 minutes. (Watch closely because once the mixture starts to change color, it will go from good to burnt almost instantly). Gently swirl the pan once to even out the cooking and prevent the sugar from burning in patches. Continue to cook until the sugar turns medium amber, about 30 seconds more.
  3. Working quickly, pour about 1/4 of the hot caramel into the first ramekin and swirl about 1/4 inch up the side. Repeat with the remaining three ramekins. Let the caramel harden and prepare the custard.
Prepare custard
  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a medium saucepan, then whisk in the remaining ingredients. Heat the custard mixture until the sugar dissolves and it is warm, but not hot. Strain through a strainer into a 1-quart measuring cup.
  3. Pour 1/4 of the custard mix into each ramekin--pour in once only, do not top off. Place 3 ramekins into a baking dish and into the oven, then pour very hot water into the roasting pan until it comes one-third up the sides of the ramekins, being careful not to splash water into the custard. Add the 4th ramekin to the baking dish.
  4. Bake the custards in the water bath until the near center of the custard reaches 175F on an instant read thermometer, 30 to 45 minutes (see note). If you don't have an instant read thermometer, insert a knife slightly off center and it should come out clean.
  5. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and cool completely. I usually use a slotted pancake turner to remove the first couple, before removing from the oven (I have splashed my custard at this point too). Once cool, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 8 hours (see note), or up to 3 days.
  6. To serve, run a small knife in a smooth (not sawing) motion around the edge of each ramekin to loosen the custard. Place a small plate on top of the ramekin, then invert. If the creme caramel doesn’t release, you can gently shake up and down a few times to help loosen, holding the plate and ramekin tightly together.
  7. Decorate with berries and fresh herbs if desired
  1. If you want to double the recipe, I suggest that you either make the caramel in two batches or get someone to help you swirl the caramel in the cups while you pour -- the caramel can burn or harden if you take too long.
  2. There is one exception to the 175 F rule and that is a deep custard. This should work in a standard dish, evenly divided by 4, but one time when I went deeper (due to a dish issue), the deeper custards tested to 175 but came out too soft at the bottom of the dish (the "top" when inverted). I believe the thermometer registered the 175 F of the top while the bottom was still too cool. So for a deeper custard, you may still need the "jiggle test," aka remove when it has a slight jiggle.
  3. I haven't tried serving my creme caramel without a rest of at least 8 hours (Fine Cooking says 12) but others serve more quickly. If you have other experience here, let me know.
Art of Natural Living

147 thoughts on “You Can Make Creme Caramel (& a Giveaway)

  1. David

    My favorite new recipe is a pasta with citrus cream – a revelation.

    I love Nielsen-Massey’s vanilla extract , but have not had their paste.

    As you know, I am already a subscriber! 🙂

  2. Tim

    The most recent new recipe we tried was drop biscuits. They were so much easier to make because we didn’t have to roll them out and cut them, but the oddball shape made them harder to cut in half for butter and jam.

  3. Rosie

    I found really good rhubarb this past week, even though it is not growing where we are yet, it looked so bright and fresh, like it had just been picked from a local garden. I made a rhubarb cobbler with honey and vanilla, it was so good! A taste of spring!

  4. Rosie

    I signed up for Art of Natural Living emails! The Creme Caramel looks delish, 5-star restaurant quality – nothing better than using the freshest eggs, milk and cream and the best vanilla, makes a huge difference.

  5. Chelsea V

    I tried a new recipe for zucchini bread recently, but I think I need to go back to my original recipe – nothing beats a classic!

  6. Holly B

    I have been putting my breadmaker to good use! It’s so easy to make bread now, and I found a great pizza dough recipe…I’d love to win this paste to use in a banana bread!

  7. Michelle StPierre

    I subscribe, I’m so happy I found your blog! I am obsessed with real vanilla anything. Thanks for the chance!

  8. Michelle StPierre

    I recently bought a bottle of real maple sera up infused with an entire vanilla bean. My daughter and I, whom is eight, decided to make a maple vanilla cheesecake. It was one of the most delicious thing we have ever made. We are making another one for Easter and can’t wait to share with all of our friends and family. She and I would be so excited to win this we only use real vanilla, imitation just shouldn’t be a thing.

  9. Susan Christy

    I’ve been grilling a lot lately, and haven’t tried any new recipes, which is unusual for me!

  10. karen

    I made my own aloo paratha for the first time last week, it was fun and easier than I thought

  11. Donna Willis

    I have not tried these but my granddaughter and i would really like to try these as they aseem yummy.

  12. Melodie

    I love to try new recipes. I just did a new recipe tonight of chicken noodle soup. It was really good too.

  13. Cynthia C

    I tried a seafood curry recipe recently that turned out well. Everyone liked it. I want to make the creme caramel recipe for my Easter dinner this Sunday. I love that it can be made ahead.

  14. Brenda Haines

    I made Everything Dutch Oven Bread and some cream cheese/marionberry thumbprint cookies last week that were amazing!

  15. Paula Hafner

    Yes. Do you have an instant pot? I’ve been making the cold start yogurt. I strain it to make it into Greek. I make a cheese like ricotta from the whey and some milk. I also made these awesome blueberry yogurt muffins. I love trying new recipes!!!

  16. Annamarie V

    I have not tried any new recipes lately but I would love to try the vanilla paste in my famous pecan pie recipe, I think it would make it even better.

  17. Grace Mitchell

    Mmmm…my ginger creme brûlée recipe is already tp die for, but adding vanilla paste would be outstanding!

  18. Dana Matthews

    What a beautiful dessert! Yes, I have tried a new recipe. I love trying new recipes. Right now I have a 3 Day Coconut Cake “marinating” in the fridge. My dad recalled eating a slice years ago so I looked up the recipe and it will be ready for him tomorrow!

  19. Jennifer Pickett

    I haven’t tried any new recipes lately though I plan on trying a Thai Coconut Milk soup this coming weekend, and there is a chicken recipe in the last Cooking Light that I just may try as well.

  20. Valencia

    I recently tried a recipe for french toast coated in crushed cereal. I was ok with it but not excited. This weekend I will trying a recipe for Butternut Cake. The pictures I have seen look good so my fingers are crossed.

  21. Angela Hendricks

    I haven’t tried anything new lately! After seeing your post I am going to try and make some flan. I love flan and could save so much money by making it myself.

  22. Angelica

    This looks delicious! I just tried a new recipe for banana flour waffles with wild blueberries and they’re SOOO good!

  23. Karen D

    I haven’t had much time lately to try new recipes. Been sticking with my stand-bys like pound cake and blueberry muffins

  24. Christina Litchfield

    I tried garlic bread soup yesterday. Lots of garlic and paprika. Really good for an unusual flavor combo I’ve never tried before.

  25. Kristie

    We tried Zuppa Toscana soup recently! It was an Olive Garden copycat. Amazing!! kristiedonelson(at)gmail(dot)com Thank you. Happy Easter!

  26. Cindy L

    Not too recently, but over the winter I tried a butternut squash soup recipe that had a spicy apple and nut relish on top. It was pretty good!

  27. Samantha Plotkin

    I tried a new no-chill sugar cookie recipe with my daughter today. It was much easier not to have to wait for the dough to chill for a little one and came out just as tasty.

  28. desiree

    i am buy my self most of the time so i do small dished but i have gf who would do it for me she cook she got me to eat some cajun food

  29. ellie sheely

    I found a from scratch easy recipe for brownies using almond flour.When cutting back the sugar/and or subbing just a bit of the sugar for Stevia, I get a tasty and pretty “healthy” sweet snack. Adding chopped nuts or raw honey boosts the neutraceutica content. But I have an interest in learning more about custard desserts. thanks for the chance.

  30. Noreen

    I recently tried making water challah, it is now a family favorite that I’ve made a few times.

  31. Tandy | Lavender and Lime

    Your crème caramel looks amazing! I am going to try your tip about using a thermometer to test the doneness of the custard. Had my first ever crème brûlée failure the other day. I am alson intrigued about not tempering the eggs so will try that too.

  32. Kelly mcgrew

    I made a fathead pizza dough as I cut most carbs from my diet. Tasted just like traditional pizza dough!

  33. Kaycee Schoellhorn

    I just bought a cookbook all about bread so I have been trying a lot of good new bread recipes. My two favorites were probably the cheesy quick bread and the dinner rolls!

  34. Julie Waldron

    I tried a new cookie recipe a month or two ago. It was called Smorgasbord Cookies and they had a little bit of everthing in them.

  35. Casey Garvey

    I am not much of a cook. I stick to basic, easy stuff. I havent tried anything good or nre lately.

  36. susan smoaks

    today i made a new soup with just veggies and it is really good. i am glad i tried the recipe.

  37. angie w

    I can’t think of any new recipes I tried lately. I did make a tried and true recipe last week, however – red velvet cupcakes!

  38. kathy pease

    Sadly I have not tried any new recipes lately but I need to start finding new and tasty dishes to try for my hubby

  39. Deb Ford

    I found a new lemon pound cake recipe that uses buttermilk and boy what a difference one ingredient can make. I’ve made it twice in as many weeks!

  40. Nataliej

    I just baked an amazing almond butter cake as well as a praline cheesecake. Recipes from a friends grandma. Super delicious

  41. Stephanie Liske

    My daughter made a lil petite four recipe, but I’m not allowed to try them until tomorrow.

  42. Allyson Tice

    i recently tried a strawberry cream cake filled with real berries and whipped buttercream icing! delish!

  43. Summer D

    I am constantly trying new recipes! I’ve been looking for a no-bean chili that my family loves, so I try a new chili recipe every couple of weeks. I also just made banana oatmeal cookies for the first time that were delicious.

  44. Katie Bellamy

    It’s been a bust in the recipe department lately. I gotta scroll through others answers! 🙂

  45. Kerry P

    I have not tried the recipes, but I love their vanilla extract. Once I tried it, I can’t bring myself to buy any other brand!

  46. Annmarie W.

    My hubby recently came home from the health club, where he had seen the folks on The Kitchen (on FoodTV) making crockpot lasagna soup. I found the recipe online & tried it…and it was delicious! Will definitely be making it again!

  47. Lisa Vanhook

    Yes I have tried a new dish recently. From memory of watching my mother in law I made “Chicken and Dumplings” they turned out wonderful!

  48. Mary Beth Elderton

    These Caramel cremes look delicious! They also look fancy on the plate without being top difficult to make. I haven;t really been experimenting in the kitchen too much lately, so I don;t have a great new idea….but I pinned this recipe to try soon.

  49. Claudia

    Last weekend, I made for the first time Apple Cinnamon muffins. I bought granny smiths and apple cider at the green market near my apartment for that recipe and they turned out fantastic.

  50. Julie

    I tried a new carrot cupcake recipe today it was delish.. I added fresh ginger and fresh nutmeg…I will make it again….

  51. Sarah L

    Haven’t tried any new recipes lately, but now I want to make this.
    Thanks for the contest.

  52. Leela

    I’ve tried a new lemon biscotti recipe I really like. I’ve made it twice in the last month.

  53. Buddy Garrett

    I tried subscribing to your email but I received a message saying there was a problem and try again. I tried again.

  54. Sand

    I’ve been recovering from the flu, so I haven’t made anything lately. But I have been wanting to bake an orange cardamom cake.

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