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Crème caramel may sound fussy and out of reach, but this recipe from Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese requires only six ingredients and is surprisingly attainable—oohs and ahhs (and dripping caramel) await.
“This French dish has become the most Vietnamese of all Vietnamese desserts,” Luu writes. “The secret here is using [sweetened] condensed milk, which is a cupboard essential.”
The ingredient list is short, but note that you will need a 10-inch pie dish and deep baking or roasting pan to set up a bain-marie (aka a water bath) in the oven. The payoff? You’ll be rewarded with a silky custard that decorates itself with caramel as it makes its way to the table.
Recipes excerpted with permission from Vietnamese by Uyen Luu, published by Hardie Grant Books, May 2021.
2 large egg yolks
4 large eggs
½ cup (120ml) heavy cream
7 ounces (200g) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (250ml) milk
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons water
½ cup (110g) superfine sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 320°F. Have ready a 10-inch pie dish.
2. Make the crème base: In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks and eggs together, then add the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, milk and vanilla, and stir to combine.
3. Make the caramel: In a small saucepan, add the water and sprinkle in the sugar. Cook over low heat without stirring; after about 5 minutes, the sides will start to turn into liquid and bubble—resist the urge to stir. After 10 to 12 minutes, about a quarter of the sugar will start to brown; shake and swirl the pan and wait a few minutes until it is mostly liquid and golden. Turn off the heat and continue to swirl until all the sugar has caramelized and turned a rich golden color. Quickly pour a thin layer of caramel into the pie dish—just enough to cover the bottom—and swirl very quickly (it will harden) to cover all the edges and some along the sides. Set aside a few minutes to set, tapping it with a spoon to check for hardness.
4. Meanwhile, bring enough water to fill the roasting pan halfway up the pie dish to a boil. Place the pie dish into a deep roasting pan, pour the crème mixture into the dish, then fill the pan halfway with the boiling water to form a bain-marie.
5. Bake until the crème wobbles tightly and evenly when jiggled, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool to room temperature before refrigerating.
6. To serve, loosen the chilled custard with a thin knife around the side of the pie dish; place a serving plate over the dish, turn the dish upside down and tap out or shake once for the baked crème caramel to shift onto the plate. The caramel should drizzle down the sides.