Bourbon Crème Caramel,
A Mature Misfit’s Holiday Dessert
I can’t believe I am about to type these words: We bought a minivan.
My darling rusty truck wasn’t cutting it anymore and the time came to consider something more spacious and reliable. We did the math and a minivan seemed to be the best solution for our needs. How did I get here?? A mortgage in the suburbs, this loving husband, 2 great kids and now I drive a minivan?! Wow. I bet no one who knew me 10 years ago could have predicted this.
Isn’t it funny how these milestone purchases have a way of force feeding perspective on your current life and trudging up memories of yesteryear? With all of the social discussion on American Thanksgiving this week, I’ve been caught up thinking about the holiday season of the ol’ days, a time before family became my everything. Days of living in an old, run-down Victorian home in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Myself, 8 dudes and countless breeds of snakes, spiders, toads and lizards (mostly caged but I seem to remember a plastic pool in the living room hosting a frisky dragon at some point). I should probably mention that many of my roommates in these days studied Zoology and Herpetology at the University of Toronto campus just across the street. If you could deal with the smells (mainly from the boys, not the reptiles), it was a pretty fun, very lively house to live in. Though, once the holiday season came around it turned into a ghost town. Only myself and a few others had no where better to be, or chose to be nowhere else, or couldn’t afford to get to those places they’d rather be. For we orphans, it wasn’t the picturesque family setting but we made the best of it.
In lieu of traditional holiday feasts, I created Misfit Feasts. $10 contributions from everyone involved would afford me an afternoon in the market, collecting fresh herbs, vegetables, cheese, day old baguettes and cheap ground meats. By 5pm our second hand Ikea table would host a mountain of Spaghetti Bolognese, loads of garlic toasts with melted jalapeno havarti and smack dab in the middle of the table, in place of a traditional roasted turkey, would sit 40 ounces of Wild Turkey Bourbon Whiskey. This was all the turkey we misfits needed. We would drink and toast and slur things like, “We don’t need no stinkin’ family.” From there the evening would often lead to trouble, the fun, slightly innocent kind of trouble.
These are the memories of that unsuspecting soccer mom pulling up beside you at that red light. Driving her kids to dance class in her unsuspecting minivan, wearing her unsuspecting sweater vest… Domestication can happen to the best of us, you’ve officially been warned.
Back in those Kensington days, I would have considered a crème caramel far too sophisticated to even attempt. I was so very, very wrong. This version of the classy dessert, originally printed by Donna Hay, is more flair by reputation and not by effort, it includes basic pantry items and a simple technique that even a beginner baker can easily master.
Bourbon Crème Caramel
Adapted from Donna Hay’s a cook’s guide
Prepares: 1x 9″ round dessert
Prep time: 25 mins. Cook time: 40 mins. Set time: at least 4 hours, recommended overnight
Total time: About an hour before bed
- 1 1/3 cups caster sugar (see below, prepare 2 cups total)
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup whiskey bourbon of your liking
- 4 whole eggs
- 8 egg yolks
- 2/3 cup caster sugar, extra
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 300°F. Place 1 1/3 cup sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 8–10 minutes or until the mixture is dark golden. Pour into 9″ round oven-safe cake pan. Set aside for 5 minutes or until the caramel is set.
- Place the milk, cream and whiskey in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil. Remove from heat.
- Place the eggs, extra yolks, extra sugar and vanilla in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking to combine.
- Strain the mixture* and pour into the cake pan, over set caramel. Place full pan in a water bath (A tea towel lined roasting pan or 11″x14″ dish works well, the towel ensures the caramel stays in place and cooks evenly. Pour enough boiling water to surround the outside of the cake pan half way up.).
- Bake for 35 minutes or until set. Remove from the dish and refrigerate for 2 hours or until cold. Remove your crème caramel from the fridge 30 minutes before serving.
- To turn out onto the serving plate, dip the bottom of the cake pan in hot water for 10 seconds, helping the caramel slip out easily. Place upside down plate on top to the creme caramel cake pan, carefully and quickly flip it over and slide the cake pan away.
Note: Be sure to use a large plate with a slight lip up along the border to catch all of the excess caramel sauce. Do not use a pretty flat cake holder (as displayed above), it will cause a sticky spillage mess like you won’t believe. The things I do to illustrate a point.
This one goes out to anyone and everyone out there that has ever asked the question, “How did I get here?” Either it be from the bathroom floor or the lot of a car dealership, I say the prescription remains the same: whip up a Bourbon Crème Caramel alongside a dose of Talking Heads. Enjoy! xoAdd to favorites