Crème Caramel. Another childhood favourite

Crème caramel

I grew up in a world without cakes, pastries. Can you imagine that? But the reality was that when I was growing up, our country was poor. Supplies were extremely limited. Powdered milk and Milo was precious back then. We did not have any fancy American brands. Instead we had a lot of Russian products! I remember the “teddy bear” and “motherhood” milk powder and chocolate drink! Cake and pastries were not in my radar until I was 11 or 12.

My sweet world was limited to fruits from my grandparents’ trees (not that I complained about it), occasional ice popsicles in the Hanoi Old Quarter. Every day after a light but nutritious breakfast, mom always offered me with two options: yoghurt or crème caramel as snack. That was the part I most looked forward to! Yes, we learned them from the French, but the Vietnamese make absolutely delicious crème caramel and yoghurt. The serves were really tiny yet full of flavours. No low-fat yoghurt or custard please. A little fully flavoured sweet treats went a long way.

It may be strange, but my to-go crème caramel recipe is from Australian chef Neil Perry. It produces light and smooth custard which is not overly creamy, sugary or heavy. I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with flavours though – from the common vanilla to orange blossom and rose water. Gotta love them all. And yes, I will be writing up a post on home-made Vietnamese yoghurt. Soon. Promise!

Crème caramel

Crème Caramel 

In Vietnam, crème caramel is steamed on the stove because households do not have access to oven. I prefer bake them in a water bath in the oven. It’s easier to control temperature that way. I’ve used the pudding bottles here. Traditionally, crème caramel is cooked and cooled in small dariole moulds, then inverted onto serving plates. Based on a Neil Perry’s recipe.

Ingredients (for 6-8 smallish pudding bottles, around 1/4cup capacity)

500ml full-cream milk
50g caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla paste, or 1 tsp orange blossom water/rose water
3 egg yolks
3 eggs

Caramel 100g caster sugar, 60ml water

1. Heat the milk to warm, add sugar (50g) and stir to dissolve. Cool completely. For the caramel, bring the sugar and water to a gentle simmer, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar. Do not stir once it´s simmering. Watch the sugar and water carefully, and simmer only until it starts turning a deep caramel colour. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour equal amounts of the caramel into the moulds/pudding bottles. Hold the moulds at the top of the rim and swirl to coat the moulds halfway up their sides with the caramel. Set aside.
2. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Lightly mix the eggs, yolks and vanilla (or other flavouring) in a bowl. Strain the milk mixture into the egg mixture, slowly whisking. Strain again and pour into the prepared moulds.
3. Lay a tea-towel on the bottom of a roasting tin. Place the moulds inside the tin and fill the tin with hot water until it reaches halfway up the sides of the moulds. Cover the tin with foil and place in the centre of the oven to cook for around 30 minutes, or until set (the time will vary according to the oven and the size of the moulds).
4. Allow to cool, then store in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

48 Responses to Crème Caramel. Another childhood favourite

  1. Spencer says:

    Looks absolutely delicious! I would love to try some.

  2. Sublime Palate says:

    Looks so delicious! Beautiful styling and photos.

  3. Big brother, Little sister. says:

    Wow! I am going to try these asap xx your photography is devine and I can just imagine the Hanoi old quarter after visiting a few years ago x

  4. Tina @ bitemeshowme says:

    I don't know what it is but my family loves creme caramel as well (we too are vietnamese!) Mum loves the stuff. I think she loves the texture of it. Am book marking this little baby :)

  5. Radhika @ Just Homemade says:

    Those little pots of creme caramel look so decadent! Adorable little pots, where did you find those cute things?

  6. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    The homemade version is just the best! Very tempting…

  7. Angie's Recipes says:

    This looks so tempting! Love those cute glasses.

  8. Paaka Shaale says:

    Oh what an elegant dessert. I loved that spoon. Those cute jars and everything about the photographs. :)

  9. Soma says:

    I can relate to that. The fancy pastries were something we adored through the glass and did not get to have very often. homemade healthy desserts they were and my maa made cream caramel in pressure cooker over the stove top! I do it the same way too.

  10. leaf (the indolent cook) says:

    Gorgeous! I love creme caramel – funnily enough it's a dessert that brings back childhood memories for me, too.

  11. Cocoa and Lavender says:

    Anh – what a beautiful memory of your childhood! These sound wonderful, and look beautiful. And I truly covet the pudding bottles. I wish I could find them here! ~David

  12. Ambika says:

    Such a beautiful post Ahn!!! Gorgeous photos!!

  13. Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    I need to try this recipe soon! Well, cakes and pastries are really nice and delicious, but you grew up with natural fruits which are a lot healthier and good for you! You know the real treasure in food. :-) I can't wait to try this one!

  14. melissabedinger says:

    This was a wonderful little post…the first photo drew me in and loved the story :)

  15. Pencil Kitchen says:

    This look amazing! As a kid all i had was condensed milk and cheese slices. Literally. And breads with chocolate sprinkles and lots of butter. Creme caramel was something i had only years ago. I loved it.

  16. Ames says:

    These are so cute! We love getting the little pots of milk custard from BreadTop as a treat every once in a while and were debating whether or not to throw the pots away… now I know what we can use them for! 😀 Thanks for sharing such a lovely recipe ^^

  17. Jennifer (Delicieux) says:

    Such a gorgeous post Anh! Your creme caramels look so inviting. I remember my favourite restaurant, which has since closed, who would serve tiny creme cramels at the end of the meal. The first time I went there I ordered dessert and then after that came the tiny creme caramel. I was so fully but had to try it and it was so delicious. Since then creme caramels remind me of that restaurant, and on

  18. chinmayie @ love food eat says:

    What a beauty! Love those little jars :)

  19. Cathleen says:

    No cakes and pastries?! How did you survive? :p

  20. Anna @ The Littlest Anchovy says:

    I loved reading this post Anh. I can see why you hold this dessert close to your heart. I love the sweet little pots you have put it in and I am looking forward to your yoghurt recipe!

  21. MyFudoTM says:

    I've visited Vietnam once and I have loved the cuisine since then. Love this sweet and creamy treat, I wanna try soonest!

  22. Zee says:

    Beautiful pictures!

  23. Anonymous says:

    These jars look very similar

  24. msihua says:

    Wow… Sometimes I forget how lucky I am to have grown up with unlimited supply of milo and horlicks :) It pains me that although we grew up in neighbouring countries, the circumstances were completely different! I love your pictures by the way :)

  25. Johanna GGG says:

    what lovely pots and such an interesting reflection on a childhood so different to mine – my mum was always baking – and I would have expected lots of baking in Vietnam because I have been told the French had a great influence there – was it due to the war that there was no baking – ie do you parents or grandparents remember a time before the war when there was no baking or is baking in Vietnam a

  26. Deeps @ Naughty Curry says:

    such beauties… love the presentation and look!

  27. Magda | My Little Expat Kitchen says:

    I loooove creme caramel! What gorgeous photographs, Ahn.

  28. Eri says:

    Cant wait for the Vietnamese Yoghurt!

  29. Nic@diningwithastud says:

    Gorgeous styling Anh 😀 delish!

  30. Yasmeen says:

    Anh, how beautiful! I love your personal history behind this creme caramel, and the beautiful props (especially that fluted spoon). It's one of my favorite dishes as well – my grandmother is famous for it. Like Vietnam, the Middle East was very heavily influenced by French culture.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Here is an Etsy shop that carries these little jars. She said she had a supply of them so if you don't see them listed, just email her.

  32. Tanvi@SinfullySpicy says:

    I love the sound of fruits from grandparents wonderful. This dessert is so easy..will try!

  33. Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen says:

    I grew up eating creme caramel and yogurt as an afternoon snack as well! So creamy and comforting.

  34. WokandSpoon says:

    Lovely. I have to try this recipe. My husband is French so we're a bit obsessive about creme caramel in this house!

  35. Amy (Savory Moments) says:

    These look so very delicious! I would love one for dessert right now.

  36. OCFoodBlogger says:

    Very nice! I also like how the creme caramel is placed in little jar-like cups.

  37. Lisa H. says:


  38. Peter G | Souvlaki For The Soul says:

    Just divine Anh! Love the presentation in the glasses and love the pics too! Gorgeous!

  39. Zee says:

    Gorgeous pics! Creme caramel is one of my child hood favorites too

  40. Winston says:

    Ohhh Anh I like the story you shared of your childhood at the start of the post. Reminiscent of simpler times and I feel I share similar (although not completely the same) background. Before there were fine dining restos, we ate very simple, hearty comfort food and that was all that we needed to keep us contented. Anyway, I tried making creme caramel before but it completely failed, felt so sad!

  41. Angry Asian says:

    such a lovely post about your childhood! i was in Vietnam a few months ago and i saw that there was heavy russian influence (in the later years), it never occurred to me before! it makes sense but it's just not something that i thought about, living here in the states.

  42. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Looks super yummy! And simple enough as well.

  43. SavoringTime in the Kitchen says:

    I love Creme Caramel, Creme Brulee, Pots de Creme! Darling little containers you used!

  44. Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious says:

    Wow, this looks dangerously amazing!

  45. Janine says:

    wow this creme caramel sounds perfect for my friend who loves it! i on the other hand grew up with cakes, so I seldom turned to creme caramel ;p would love to have a vietnamese yogurt recipe though! waiting for it :)

  46. Coconut Oil Cooking says:

    It's great that these snacks are light and small so you can really take time to taste the flavors. The full cream milk probably makes it taste even better. Nothing beats the taste of real cream in desserts!

  47. On Fridays, I share my favorite food finds in a series called Food Fetish Friday – and I love this post so I’m featuring it as part of the roundup (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and I look forward to seeing what you create next…

  48. Carole says:

    Hi there. The current Food on Friday on Carole’s Chatter is all about favourite foods from childhood. I do hope you link this lovely one in. This is the link . Please do pop back to check out some of the other links. Have a great week.

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