This rich Argentinian dessert uses lemon juice and vanilla bean to make the caramel. Serve cold with the dulce de leche (milk caramel) for extra indulgence.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (52 votes)


  • 260 g caster sugar 
  • 2 tsp lemon juice 
  • 1 litre milk 
  • ½ vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped 
  • 6 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks 
  • dulce de leche (see Note), to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Chilling time overnight
Drink match Brown Brothers Moscato ($13, 375 ml) or Innocent Bystander Pink Moscato ($11, 375 ml)

You will need to begin this recipe 1 day ahead.

To make the caramel, place 110 g sugar, 2 tbsp water and lemon juice in a small saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring and brushing the side of the saucepan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals forming, until the sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium, bring to the boil and cook, without stirring, for 4 minutes or until the caramel is golden brown.

Remove from heat and allow bubbles to subside. Pour into a round 1.5 L ovenproof dish and tilt dish quickly to coat evenly with caramel. Place in a deep roasting pan. Cool.

Preheat oven to 200°C. Place milk, remaining 150 g sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a saucepan and bring to the boil. 

Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl. Pour the milk mixture into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Return mixture to the pan and stir continuously over low-medium heat with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes (don't boil). Strain into caramel dish and fill roasting pan with enough boiling water to reach halfway up the side of the dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until just set but still slightly wobbly. Carefully remove dish from water bath and cool completely before refrigerating overnight.

Run a knife around the crème caramel to loosen it from the dish. Place a plate on top of the dish and carefully invert. Slice and serve with dulce de leche. (To ensure neat slices, María Elena makes a hole in the centre of the crème caramel by sticking a glass into it, then scooping out the round; this makes it easier to transfer the slices without them breaking). 


• Dulce de leche is a Spanish caramel that is prepared by heating sweetened milk. It is available from delis and specialist food shops. Substitute tinned caramel from supermarkets or try this salted cardamom dulce de leche recipe


Photography by Anson Smart.

As seen in Feast magazine, Sept 2011, Issue 1.