I love reading recipe books and often borrow them from the public library. If I get to the end and feel the need to copy out lots of recipes, then I go online and buy the book!
This delicious recipe is loosely based on one by Peter Gilmore who owns Quay restaurant in Sydney and which appears in his book Quay: Food Inspired by Nature. My adaptation is quicker than the original recipe, which requires you to make three separate batches of caramel and is served with a home-made pear ice cream.
I made it as my contribution to a gastronomic family weekend when we all had to make something from that book. We weren’t supposed to adapt, change or cheat, but unfortunately I can’t help myself. Whenever I’m making a recipe for the first time I’m always thinking “how can I do this more quickly?” To be honest I did stick quite closely to the original recipe the first time I made it and even made the pear ice cream. Since then I’ve managed to cut down considerably on the preparation time by making only one batch of caramel and using bought vanilla ice cream. The result looks impressive and so far everyone agrees it tastes fantastic. Start making this dish the day before.
1 cup white wine
1½ cups water
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
¼ cup sugar
4 tsp powdered gelatine
About ¼ of the caramel (see below)
1½ cups sugar
½ cup water
About ½ of the caramel (see above)
1 tin condensed milk
1 cup cream
1½ cups milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
About ¼ of the caramel (see above)
300 ml cream
Vanilla Ice Cream
Home made or top quality bought
Amber Jelly: place wine, water, sugar and vanilla (pod and the scraped seeds) in a pan and heat to dissolve sugar. Place gelatine in a small bowl, mix with 2 tablespoons cold water, then zap in microwave to dissolve. Add to pan then put aside while you make the Caramel, below. Once you have added a quarter of the caramel to the jelly, heat and stir to dissolve caramel then remove vanilla pod (leaving any seeds in) and pour into a shallow Lasagne-type dish. Jelly should be and one to one and a half centimetres thick. Refrigerate overnight, covered.
Caramel: place sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed pan. Heat gently to dissolve sugar, swirling the pan, then cook steadily until you have a rich brown caramel, but don’t let it overcook or it will be bitter. Pour about half over the base and sides of a shallow pyrex dish which holds about 2 litres. This dish is for the Crème Caramel. Pour about a quarter of the caramel into the Jelly mixture and leave the remaining quarter in the pan to make the Caramel Cream, which you need to make immediately while caramel is still hot.
Caramel Cream: in the pan where you have made the caramel you should have about a quarter left. Add half the cream (150ml) and return to the heat (be careful it will spatter) stirring until caramel has dissolved into the cream. Pour into a small bowl and refrigerate, covered, overnight.
Crème Caramel: Preheat oven to 170°C. In a medium sized bowl, beat eggs, condensed milk, cream and vanilla with a balloon whisk. Pour mixture through a sieve into the pyrex dish you have lined with caramel, discarding any bits left in the sieve. Place the dish in a baking tin and pour in boiling water to come halfway up the sides. Bake for an hour, remove and cool, then refrigerate, covered, overnight.
To serve: serve in tall glasses or martini glasses. Dice amber jelly in the dish by making parallel cuts about a centimetre apart in both directions. Place a heaped tablespoonful of jelly cubes in the bottom of 8 serving glasses. Whip the remaining 150ml of cream until thick, then fold in the Caramel Cream. Place a heaped tablespoonful in each glass on top of the jelly. Then a large scoop of Crème Caramel. Drizzle with some of the caramel from the bottom of the dish. Lastly top with an egg-shaped scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Note: if preferred make small individual crème caramels and carefully tip one into each glass, but a large scoop using a tablespoon works fine.