Sunday, 22 December 2013

Sauternes Crème Caramel with Sauternes soaked Raisins

This is an incredibly simple dessert to make and one that would be perfect to serve when you want to prepare something in advance but that still looks stunning and tastes delicious when served.

Whilst Crème Caramel can be served in one dish and then portioned out when served, it can also be made in individual moulds or ramekins in single serving sized portions. I have always favoured the latter as it easier to control the cooking of the custard. When serving in a larger dish, the outside may cook before the inside and scramble slightly whilst the centre remains liquid. In this recipe, sugar syrup is cooked the caramel stage and then poured into ramekins before being topped with a custard mixture. The custards can be steamed or baked in a water-bath or bain-marie in the oven. When baked, the custards are allowed to cool and are then chilled before being turned out so that the caramel sauce covered bottom is now on top.

A classic French recipe, it is one that uses few ingredients to produce something that is rich tasting yet light to eat. Crème Caramel does need to be served chilled but as alluded to earlier, it is a dish that you can make in advance and turn out of its mould(s) just before serving where the caramel will pool invitingly around the gently baked custard.

I love the simplicity of this dessert…it is just so tasty. You can serve it with some fresh berries or soft fruits, when in season, on the side if you wish, but to be honest, I like it served more or less as it is. Why over complicate something just for the sake of it?

However, I have adapted the traditional recipe for Crème Caramel by adding a splash of Sauternes wine to the basic custard. I love dessert wines and in particular Sauternes. I think that the almost syrupy nature of Sauternes compliments the slight bitterness of the caramel beautifully and creates a dish which has a really Christmassy feel to it. I decided to serve the custards with a few Sauternes soaked raisins, which I think add a fruity richness which is also very appropriate for this time of year. Sauternes wines, like many quality dessert wines can be shockingly expensive and I certainly wouldn’t advocate buying one specially to make this dessert, but I have to say that it really does add something special to this dish. I think a Muscat de Beaumes de Venise could also be delicious. When I get the chance I will try it out and possibly serve with some seasonal clementines.
      

Ingredients:

Caramel:
75g caster sugar
1 tblsp water
Custard:
150ml double cream
50ml Sauternes
25g caster sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
Soaked raisins:
Small handful of raisins
25ml Sauternes
 

Method:

1. Put the double cream and Sauternes into a small pan and heat over a moderate heat until just below boiling point. Take off the heat and set aside for about half an hour.
Make the caramel:
2. Put 75g caster sugar and water in a small pan over a low heat. When the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat slightly and cook, but don’t stir, until you have just reached a dark caramel stage (a roasted hazelnut type colour). Pour the mixture into the bases of two 150ml capacity ramekins and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 150C/Fan Oven 130C/Gas Mark 2.
Custard:
4. Put 25g caster sugar and the egg and yolk into a bowl and mix together with a hand-held electric mixer until light and pale in colour (about two minutes). Pour the infused cream onto the egg yolks and beat again at a low speed until fully incorporated. Pour the custard evenly over the caramel in the ramekins.
5. Place the ramekins into a small roasting tin and pour in enough hot water to come half way up the side of the outside of the ramekins. Bake in the oven for approximately 25 minutes until the custard are just set, but have a slight wobble in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool, cover each ramekin with a little cling film and refrigerate for at least two hours, but overnight is preferable.
Soaked Raisins:
6. Put the raisins and Sauternes in a small saucepan and heat until just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To serve:
7. Run a sharp knife around the rim of each of the custards. Turn out onto serving dish and place a few soaked raisin around the base of each pudding.
 
Serves 2.