As far as I can take my memories back in time, I always see my mother making this dessert whenever an occasion demanded a crowd pleaser. I never enjoyed eating this dessert though, considering that I was quite a picky eater, but I was always in awe when she would turn out the custard from its mould and set it over on to the serving plate. One second before it would be like a cheesecake, prim and proper, and the very next moment it would be swimming in that lovely caramel syrup scented with vanilla. And in the nondescript town that I was raised in, such decadent desserts were unheard of. Our guest would invariably be very impressed and some were intrigued to see a top layer of caramel and wondering how the hell did it appear there 😛 This dessert now happens to be one of my favourite ones, after Tiramisu of course. And even now it elicits the same response from people as it did when Mum used to make it. This dessert is meant to impress. The delicate custard scented with vanilla and orange zest feels like silk on the palate. Ah! So good! I think I need to stop writing this post and help myself to a slice of it right away. You grab the recipe.
¼ C plus 1 tbsp Sugar
3 – 4 tbsp Sugar (for caramelising)
1 C Cream (I used Amul)
1 C Milk
½ tsp Vanilla Extract
Zest of 1 Orange
6 or 7 inch sized Baking Tin (baking pan)
Hold the pan using tongs or cloth and swirl the sugar around (you do not need to cover the sides of the pan with caramel), once it begins to melt.
Keep a constant eye on the sugar as it will begin to caramelise now. Keep swirling it around a little, till it just begins to attain a deep colour. (Since the sugar will keep caramelizing in its own heat even when you remove it from heat, therefore you need to be very vigilant about the colour of the sugar when it is caramelising on heat)
Ensure that the base of the tin is completely covered in caramel. Keep the tin aside, on a level surface, to cool.
Switch on the oven to preheat it at 180 degrees C.
In a sauce pan, gently heat together the cream and milk along with sugar while stirring with a wooden spoon or a spatula. Once the sugar has dissolved and the milk begins to get hot, switch off the heat.
Stir in the orange zest & vanilla extract and set the pan aside for approximately 20 minutes.
Whisk the eggs in a mixing bowl.
Transfer the contents back into the sauce pan and place it again over medium low heat. Cook this egg-milk mixture (or custard) stirring all the while.
Once the mixture starts to coat the back of the wooden spoon or spatula, switch off the heat. Sieve the custard and pour it into the baking tin in which we had caramelised the sugar. Cover the tin with the aluminium foil.
Place the tin over a baking sheet (baking tray) and place it in the oven.
Carefully pour boiling water in the tray till it comes to nearly half the height of the baking tin. Bake the custard till it is set, yet a wee bit wobbly in the centre when you gently jiggle the pan.
Remove the tin from the baking sheet and cool it. Once cool, place the tin in the refrigerator and chill for a few hours (preferably over night).
To serve, run a knife around the edges of the custard and carefully turn it over onto the serving plate. Ensure that your serving plate has some edges coz the caramel will release plenty of syrup. Slice and serve. Enjoy!
Note: You can bake the custard in individual portions too by baking them in ramekins.
Serves: 8 – 10