Coconut Creme Caramel - Back story and recipes!
For approximately three decades, a lady named Lisbee lived next door to my parents. She was lovely, always making sure she shared mangoes and bananas from her trees with us and always making time for conversation.
Every time I visited Mauritius for as long as she lived there, she would make a point of cooking for me and having me for dinner at her house. She would always be delighted when I would ask her to make Creme Caramel for me. Her Creme Caramel would always be soft and silky with very few bubbles inside, if any at all. The most unbelievable part of it was that she cooked it in a pressure cooker!
In a way it doesn’t surprise me that it was cooked on the stovetop as many homes in Mauritius don’t have ovens. I did find the pressure cooker aspect surprising as the heat in the pressure cooker goes very high and I thought that sort of heat would destroy the dessert.
Lisbee didn’t seem to think her recipe was anything special and she looked surprised when I asked whether she could write it down for me. Now that she no longer lives there and is unable to cook, I’m very happy that I have her hand written recipe to remember her by. It meant a lot to me that she wanted to spend time with me and cook for me in spite of her health issues. Please note that this recipe is written for old style pressure cookers, the ones which would periodically release pressure with a whistling sound.
I have provided a translated version of her recipe, however, I have created one that is cooked in the oven with a tropical twist that uses coconut milk as a part of the base and will also be providing that recipe here.
This is a translated version of her recipe:
1 375 ml tin Carnation Evaporated Milk
375 ml water (use tin to measure)
5 to 6 tablespoons of sugar
1 vanilla bean
About 1 cup of sugar for making caramel.
To prepare the caramel:
In a dry pan, heat 1 cup of sugar over medium high heat until sugar starts to melt. Swirl the pan to help the sugar melt and continue to cook, swirling periodically until sugar has darkened and colour is almost coffee coloured.
Pour caramel into a relatively deep cake tin that fits into your pressure cooker, swirling tin to make sure bottom is evenly coated.
For the cream:
Place vanilla bean on a cutting board, make a slit lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Reserve pod to add to bottle of vanilla extract (vanilla pods in vodka, see recipe for making vanilla extract) or add to container of sugar to add flavour.
Beat whole eggs with 5 to 6 tablespoons of sugar, preferably with a whisk. Heat water and condensed milk. Remove from heat and add vanilla seeds to it, stir well to disperse seeds.
Slowly incorporate the milk into egg mixture while continuing to whisk until mixture is almost homogeneous and sugar has dissolved.
Place water in pressure cooker so that it comes up to about half as deep as your cake tin.
Pour milk and egg mixture into cake tin and place tin in the water in the pressure cooker. Place lid on pressure cooker and place on stove on medium to high heat. At the first “whistle” of the pressure cooker, turn off stove and wait about 20 minutes for pressure to release itself completely before removing tin from the cooker. Chill overnight in refrigerator before serving.
Once I came to Australia and after some time started teaching cooking classes, I decided to devise a recipe of my own that would be easy to prepare in the Australian kitchen.
After some trials and experiments, this is the recipe that works for me.
Serves 10, Cooking time 30 minutes
500 ml Coconut Milk
500ml Full Cream Milk
1 Vanilla Bean, split and scraped
6 whole eggs
6 egg yolks
110g white sugar
125 ml water
Preheat the oven to 190ºC. Combine milk, coconut milk, sugar and vanilla seeds in a small saucepan and heat gently. Stir to ensure that sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool.
While the mixture is cooling, in a heavy based pan, bring 225g of sugar and 125 ml of water to a boil. Do not stir after mixture begins to simmer, swirl occasionally and heat until the mixture is a deep caramel colour. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into ramekins to cover the bottom of the ramekins with the caramel.
Mix the eggs and egg yolks in a bowl and slowly add the milk mixture. Strain and pour into moulds, letting the custard fill moulds about 3/4 full. Place the ramekins in a baking dish and fill the baking tin with water halfway up the sides of the moulds. Bake until set, checking after about 20 minutes. Allow to cool then refrigerate.
Before serving, fill a bowl with boiling water and place each mould in the water for about 10 seconds. Run a sharp knife along the inside of each mould and slowly invert onto a plate.
I hope you enjoy these recipes and please do contact me if you would like more information or if you have recipes of your own to share. Happy Cooking!