Best recipes of 2015: Caramel Custard in its glistening glory

Best recipes of 2015: Caramel Custard in its glistening glory

  • Tuesday, December 29, 2015 5:43pm
  • LifeFood

Hard as it may be to grasp, 2015 is coming to a fast end. If you’ve followed this column over the years, you already know I keep record of which recipes you’ve reported to have particularly enjoyed and add them to the year’s “best recipe” list. Whether you’ve already tried them, or are still saving them in your “recipes to try” file, they are the kind of the recipes that merit attention. This year’s tops picks are Caramel Custard (September 9), Country Captain (April 8), Sweet Corn Soup, Maryland Blue Crab (April 22) and Soft White Bread (September 23).

The Caramel Custard recipe is topped with a syrup made by caramelizing sugar in the microwave oven – a technique you will find handy whether you are calling your dessert “flan,” “crème caramel,” or even “crème brûlée.”

You may personalize the Country Captain dish, a meal comprised of curried chicken that is always served with rice, by making your own exotic curry spice blend, and if the thought of a creamy soup, laden with corn, crab and good bit of spirit makes you swoon, now’s that second chance for making Sweet Corn Soup, Maryland Blue Crab, from “Bluestem: The Cookbook,” by Colby Garrelts and Megan Garrelts with Bonjwing Lee.

In addition, should your attempts at making homemade bread fallen flat, do try the recipe here for Soft White Bread. So long as you follow the directions precisely, you’ll achieve – or come close to achieving – that coveted “perfect” loaf.

Caramel Custard

Serving: 8

For the caramel

When caramelizing sugar in the microwave oven, watch it carefully so that it does not burn. Sugar, water and lemon juice goes from clear, to champagne color, then to amber in just minutes, Even after the mixture is removed from the oven, it will continue to cook and develop in color.

Due super-high temperatures, be sure to use Pyrex glass, or even laboratory glass for making caramel.


¾ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons water

¼ teaspoon lemon juice


Combine the sugar, water and lemon juice in a 2-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup. Cover with a piece of wax paper. Microwave on HIGH power for 2 minutes. Remove paper and microwave for 1½ minutes more. Watching carefully, so sugar does not burn, microwave at 20-second intervals on HIGH until mixture reaches an amber (honey-like) color. (Do not allow mixture get too dark, as sugar will continue to cook and darken even when it is removed from the oven. If your sugar smells burnt, it will taste bitter, and you will have to start over.)

Very carefully swirl sugar onto the bottom of a 1½- to 2-quart Charlotte mold, pudding basin, or 3- to 4-inch deep casserole. (The pan will be very, very hot, so be sure to place a pad under the pan to protect your counter top, or table.) Set pan aside and allow syrup to harden. While caramel is hardening, make custard.


For the custard

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk

Fresh whole milk (use empty sweetened condensed milk can for measuring)

4 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla


Heat the oven to 350 F.

Pour sweetened condensed milk into the container of an electric blender. Using the empty sweetened condensed milk can, fill it to the top with milk, then pour the milk into the blender along with eggs and vanilla. Blend until well combined, then strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve. Pour mixture into mold or casserole on top of hardened caramel. Place mold into a baking pan large enough to hold the mold. Pour boiling water halfway up sides of pan. (This is called a “water bath.” A water bath surrounds the custard with an “insulation” of gentle heat to help prevent curdling. In France, a water bath is known as a “bain marie.”)

Bake for 1 hour until golden and a wooden skewer inserted within 1 inch from edge of custard comes out clean. (Do not be alarmed if the middle of the custard looks “wobbly.”) Carefully remove pan from oven and place it on wire rack to cool. Once cool, refrigerate several hours, or overnight, until cold.

When ready to serve, run a thin spatula along edge of custard to loosen slightly. To unmold, invert custard onto a platter, allowing sugar to run down sides.

Best recipes of 2015: Caramel Custard in its glistening glory
Best recipes of 2015: Caramel Custard in its glistening glory
Best recipes of 2015: Caramel Custard in its glistening glory
Best recipes of 2015: Caramel Custard in its glistening glory

More in Life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: This and that

Organizations are running out of people to keep them going

This Al Hershberger photo of his good friend Hedley Parsons was taken in Germany in 1945, after World War II had ended. Parsons and Hershberger came to Alaska together a few years later, and in 2010, when Parsons was interviewed for this story, he may have been the last person living who had actually attended George Dudley’s messy funeral
This parting was not sweet sorrow — Part 2

The funeral was scheduled for 2 p.m. on May 5, and spring break-up was in full, sloppy bloom at the Kenai Cemetery

Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion
A copy of “People, Paths, and Places: The Frontier History of Moose Pass, Alaska” stands in sunlight in Soldotna on Friday.
Off the Shelf: Community history project a colorful portrait of hometown

The book features the work of students at Moose Pass School and integrates further stories pulled from a community newspaper

The Anchorage Bowl Chamber Orchestra performs. (Photo courtesy Anchorage Bowl Chamber Orchestra)
Anchorage orchestra group to visit Kenai Peninsula for 10th annual tour

Anchorage Bowl Chamber Orchestra will play four shows from May 30 to June 2

Minister’s Message: Boasting only in Christ and the Cross

The Reverend Billy Graham advised every president since Truman during his lifetime

Corn cheese is served alongside grilled beef, kimchi and lettuce. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Planning barbecue with all the bells and whistles

Expect kimchi, lots of side dishes, piles of rice, marinated meat for the flame and cold fruit for dessert

Noa (voiced by Owen Teague) in 20th Century Studios’ “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.” (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios)
On the Screen: New ‘Planet of the Apes’ expands, brings new ideas to franchise universe

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” tells a story that feels more rooted in fantasy than the post-apocalypse vibe of its predecessors

A mural depicting imagery and iconography of Kenai brightens the entryway of the Walmart in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, May 15, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
‘Visible art raises people’s spirits’

Local artist’s mural introduced as part of Walmart renovations

Former North Kenai resident George Coe Dudley, seen here during the winter of 1950-51, was a hard-drinking man. His messy funeral in 1967 in Kenai echoed his lifestyle. (Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger)
This parting was not sweet sorrow — Part 1

“Dudley was an easy-going, laid-back sort of guy, always laughing and joking, as well as hard drinking.”

Most Read