Monday, November 7, 2011

Creme Caramel Pudding/Eid Mubarak.

It's been 70 days since Eid-ul-Fitr (The Eid that comes at the pointy end of Ramadan). 70 rainy (not all of them, I should hasten to add) days and very few blog posts. It's Eid-ul-Adha already (the one with sacrificial goat).

The idea of putting up harried, uninspired posts doesn't, at all, appeal to me. Recipe cards and Twitter-like reviews of the kick-ass places that have been sprouting around the nooks and crannies of Madras, maybe?

Or I could just give up going to the gym and post instead (Yes!) That'll work out well for all of us.

Instead of disbanding the blog altogether (saddening, because it's a product of my rapidly degenerating-but-still brain and my ever-growing love of all things edible-and-halal), I'll drop by when I have something I have to foist on everybody.

Case in point: it's Bakrid today! The festival of sacrifice. I'm going to make one of my most favourite desserts of all time. And then sacrifice it for the ones I love. Or double the recipe and keep a portion for myself. It's still sacrifice, voluntarily giving up dessert and all. It is, OK?

Dessert. I've compiled so many adjectives for the course, I could have a showdown with both Matt Preston and Nigella Lawson, and still win.

Dark Chocolate. Espresso. Peanut Butter. Nutella. Salt. Dark Chocolate. Mint. Demerara sugar. Raspberry. Dark Chocolate. Apple. Cinnamon. Pretty much covers all the dessert ingredients I'd give a passing grade for. However, before going off-tangent, I started like everybody else (we're all inherently good). With Dairy. And loads of it.

Crusty, day-old bread soaked in milk with a teensy sprinkling of sugar and a drop of vanilla. Creamy kheer (one portion I'd have warm, straight from the pot, and one portion, all cold, at midnight, with Friends). Sheer korma. Rice pudding with jam. Trifle with custard, jelly and sponge cake. Coconut-milk based Jaw arasi payasam (sago/tapioca payasam). Pineapple kesari.

Comfort food, all of it is. On a regular day, I'd take a Dark Chocolate Caramel Ganache Tart. On a horrible day which is on its way to Horrible-r lands, I'd take the comfort food.

Topping the comfort food list would be Caramel Pudding. Yes, of the Creme Caramel/Vanilla pudding mix variety that you get in green boxes and can be whipped up in a jiffy. Or the real way of making Creme Caramel, the only one worth trading in your skinny jeans for. I'm sure your granny or your mum has a treasured recipe for it. If not, you'd be happy to know that I'm giving away my family's version. Don't tell my mum. Kidding. Or am I?

This recipe has a lot of eggs, milk and sugar. Not much else; so you can spare me the "where in the world (I know you mean Madras by this) would I find Madagascar vanilla beans  or gold gelatin leaves?" The equipment, if we're getting all technical, would be an aluminium anda or a Rice cooker. No sorbet-crankers or waffle irons. This pudding does originate from a gazillion years back, before newfangled notions like electricity existed/was accepted.

If you like Creme Brulee or a good New York style Cheesecake, give this one a shot.

Creme Caramel

This makes a dense, cheesecake-like pudding. If you want a wobbly, flan-like pudding, reduce the cooking hours of both the milk and the pudding by half!

Whole milk: 2.5 litres
Eggs- 3 cups (approximately 14 or more)
Sugar (white, granulated)-3 cups
Vanilla essence: 2 tbsp
Sugar for the caramel glaze: as needed.


Note: The proportions of the thick milk jam:sugar:eggs is 1:1:1, so feel free to play around keeping the ration in mind.

On a low fire, heat whole milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Make sure the bottom doesn't burn. Stir occasionally.

The milk will thicken and reduce down to less than half of the original quantity. This will take an hour or more.

At the end of the boiling process, you'll get a milk jam (sort of like a thinned-down Dulce de Leche or Confiture du Lait) that'll measure around 3 cups/tumblers.

And it's OK that there are icky bits of malai/milk skin/adai in it, we'll be straining the milk mixture.

Beat with a immersion/stick blender for 10 seconds, so you break down the skin. This step can be skipped.

Add in the sugar and eggs.

With the eggs, I can't give you an exact number since I don't know if you prefer free range, organic or the jumbo variety. Just keep breaking and pouring them out until you get 3 cups worth of egg whites and yolk.

Fold it all well with a spatula. Add in good quality vanilla so that you won't have a eggy smell at the end.
 Don't be tempted to use the stick blender after adding the eggs and the sugar as this will tamper with the smooth silkiness of the pudding. Mix until it forms a cohesive batter.

Next, strain the pudding batter through a fine sieve.

Keep aside the pudding batter.

Making the caramel top:

In a stainless steel or aluminium deep vessel (make sure it's DRY, not one drop of water allowed), add a couple of tablespoons of granulated white sugar so a layer of it covers the bottom.

On a low heat, swirl the sugar around. DO NOT use a spoon or spatula. Just toss the pan around.

An amber to golden caramel base will form.

Keep aside and let it cool and harden. If you pour in the pudding straight away, it'll mix with the sugar!

Pour the pudding batter into the prepared moulds (the bowls in which you've melted sugar into a golden glass-like layer).

Steaming the pudding:

You can use a water bath. Take an aluminium vessel. Fill up to a third to half of it with water.
Position a ring mould in the centre of the vessel. Place your filled pudding mould into it. Cover the pudding mould with a stainless steel lid or aluminium foil. Cover the water- bath with a bigger lid. Let the pudding steam on low heat on the gas range in this manner  for 3 hours.

Using the rice cooker:

This photo was clicked at the end of three hours of cooking time. You'll need way more water for your water bath!!
 Filling a third of the rice cooker with water. Place the ring, then the filled pudding mould. Cover the mould with a stainless steel lid. Cover the rice cooker with its own lid. Let it cook for 3 hours.

At the end of the steaming, it should look like this.

If you feel it needs more time, so be it. Take out the pudding, let it cool for an hour or so.

Unmould it into your plate. Run a knife through the edges before unmoulding if you think it necessary.

Once the pudding is fully cooled, place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.

I know this whole process sounds scary and labour intensive, but it is in fact one of the easiest desserts to whip up. Only the cooking time can be a little weird and prolonged, but it is a special day and for special people, so all things considered? Win.

Especially when the brunt work of it was done by the sister-in-law. Thanks, BV!

Eid Mubarak, you lot. Make sure you eat some extra biryani for me. And dessert. Always the dessert.


  1. Prashant wanted to know at what point the caramel met the pudding :) I pointed out that it was when the pudding went into the moulds (I think!) but you might want to mention it somewhere for the unwary reader. I got all excited when you posted coz we love caramel custard, but it sounds way too labour intensive!! 3 hours of boiling is just not something I can consider :D

  2. Thanks for letting me know, guys. I've made a couple of modifications to the recipe.

    (You can see Beevi pour the pudding batter into the same bowl in which the granulated white sugar was melted into a layer of sticky caramel and cooled.)

    It honestly isn't hard at all. The cooking hours are long, but there's NO actual muscle-work involved! You will not regret it. :)

  3. I never knew the rice cooker had such powers.

    Thank you.

    1. I use for everything except rice. No, really.

    2. I shall be needing a list then!
      Better yet, a blog post dedicated to the powers of the rice cooker that I'm clearly so unaware of.