Crème Caramel

Latte in piedi

Crème caramel

Dolci al cucchiaio – desserts to be eaten with a spoon, such as zabaglione, tiramisù, panna cotta, budino and, of course, the classic crème caramel are popular in Italy because they’re simple to prepare, they can be made well in advance and they’re generally economical.

Cheekily, I’ve given the Italian name above because many of my neighbours argue that this is indeed a dessert of Italian origin made by housewives in the countryside when the only ingredients to hand for a dessert were eggs and milk. No doubt, the French would argue otherwise.

Recipe by Mario Matassa.

➤ MAKES 6 portions

➤ PREPARATION 15 minutes

➤ BAKING 50 minutes


  • 500ml milk
  • 2 large whole free-range eggs
  • 4 free-range egg yolks
  • 150g sugar (plus 100g for the caramel)
  • 1 vanilla pod


  1. Splice open the vanilla pod and with the back of a knife, scrape out the seeds. Rather than discard the pod, place it in an airtight jar with some sugar. You can use this to make cakes at a later date. Heat the milk with the vanilla pod and the sugar in a heavy-based saucepan. Don’t let the milk come to the boil. Once the sugar has dissolved, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool to approximately 40-50°C.
  2. While you are waiting, make the caramel. Simply melt the remaining 100g sugar in a saucepan with 2 tbsp water. Do not stir. Just use the handle to shake the pan until the sugar dissolves and turns a light amber colour.
  3. Pour the caramel equally into 6 individual pudding moulds. Allow it to cool for about 5 minutes. Once the milk has cooled, whisk in the eggs. Pour the cream equally into the pudding moulds. Place the moulds onto a large baking tray and add water up to approximately one third the height of the moulds. Bake in a preheated oven at 160ºC/Gas Mark 3 for 50 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours before serving.

TIP When you are ready to serve, simply invert the mould over onto a dessert plate and tap gently. If it decides to be obstinate and refuses to come out, gently run the point of a small sharp knife around the mould, invert and give it a gentle shake. Serve as is or with a heaped teaspoon of your favourite jam. A tart fruits of the forest goes especially well.

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