The Vietnamese can thank the French for introducing crème caramel to their cuisine but we can thank the Vietnamese for adding coconut. Rich dark caramel coating a silky coconut custard is simply a combination that was meant to be. In different parts of Vietnam, this is also known as bánh caramel, kem caramel in the north or bánh flan.
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 5 eggs
- 75 g (⅓ cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
- 400 ml tin coconut milk
- toasted flaked or shredded coconut (optional), to serve
- 165 g (⅔ cup) caster sugar
- 100 ml water
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.
Setting time 30 minutes
Chilling time 2 hours
Cooling time 1 hour
Place six 185 ml (¾ cup) heatproof ramekins or dariole moulds in a roasting pan.
To make the caramel, combine the caster sugar and 2 tbsp (40 ml) of the water in a small saucepan and use a wooden spoon to stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil. Boil for about 10 minutes, brushing down the side of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to dissolve any sugar crystals, until the mixture turns a deep caramel. Remove immediately from the heat and carefully add the remaining 60 ml (¼ cup) of water. Return to the heat and bring to a simmer, swirling the pan occasionally and stirring with a wooden spoon if necessary, until the caramel is smooth. Pour the caramel into the ramekins, dividing evenly. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes or until the caramel is set.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Scrape the vanilla seeds from the vanilla bean and combine the vanilla bean, seeds and milk in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat. Use a balloon whisk to whisk together the eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl until well combined. Remove the vanilla bean from the milk and then whisk the milk into the egg mixture with the coconut milk. Stir the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
Pour the milk mixture into the ramekins over the caramel, dividing evenly. Add enough boiling water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 35 minutes or until the custards are set but still wobble slightly in the centre when shaken.
Remove the ramekins from the roasting pan and set aside on a wire rack for 1 hour or until cooled to room temperature. Cover the ramekins individually with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 2 hours or until well chilled.
To serve, one at a time, use your fingertips to gently pull the top of the custard away from the outside of the ramekin towards the centre. Invert onto a serving plate and shake gently to release. Serve immediately decorated with coconut, if desired.
• These will keep unmoulded and covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Anneka Manning. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.
Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Caramel.