20 February 2010

Playing with food: Crème caramel

I'm not a big dessert person, but I do occasionally crave it. One of my favorite desserts is crème caramel (aka flan). When I visited Paris a few years ago, I had the most amazing crème caramel and crème brûlée that I've ever tasted. It's hard to get the same quality in the States, but I made some last week that came close - if not matched - the Parisian stuff. The trick is to use really good quality products, preferably from a farmers' market. Because I didn't have either cream or milk on hand, I used half-and-half, which I combined with beaten eggs, vanilla extract, and sugar. I find American food to be excessively sweet, so I usually halve the sugar in a recipe, which I also did with my crème caramel. The result was near perfection. I could have eaten the entire thing in one sitting, but this is not a calorie-light meal, so I resisted that temptation. The trick is to slowly savor each bite, and not skimp on the ingredients. Buying grocery-store, ultra-pasteurized milk and $1.99 eggs will give you a sub-par dessert. Trust me; spend the extra money. Your taste buds (and the animals raised in humane conditions!) will thank you for it.

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