The only occasions on which we had caramel puddings were on one of us neighborhood's kids' birthdays. But non of us wanted it! What kid would want to have a pudding while a doll/car/fairy/football field cake was waiting up there on a throne?! While the caramel pudding would be sitting on the far end corner of the table, with only one or two spoonfuls taken out of the giant wobbly yellow ring. And those were eaten by adults... bleh
So no, I do not remember caramel puddings fondly. And no, I had never wanted or thought of making them myself at home. In my defense, neither did the nostalgic fans either!
Somehow, making a caramel custard pudding, from scratch, at home, was a daunting task in my entourage. The very few in our neighborhood who have ever dared to venture down those treacherous ways and came out in victory, are still considered as living legends to this day.
If you're still reading here, that means that I haven't put you off with this horror tale yet. Give yourself a pat on the back, you just proved to me how devoted you are! (to my writing? or are you secretly following just to get the caramel pudding recipe? Hum.. I've got my eyes on you!)
Anyway, fast forwarding to the year 2010 when I first set foot on the blessed island of Japan. You could only imagine my surprise to find how popular caramel puddings are out here! To me, it was more like fast backwarding on a trip back in time! All the way back to the 1980's! Gosh I hate the eighties! (seriously, if you're an 80's fan, you've got 5 seconds to give me one good reason for me to change my mind. And no, the argument that I was born in the 80's doesn't count, no matter how awesome you think I am! Uhum...) Suddenly, all those neighborhood birthday parties memories with the sad, unloved, two spoonful missing caramel pudding came to life! Caramel pudding (or yaki-purin, the way they call it here)was everywhere! Noooooo!
You know how the story ends right? Again, with me stomping with my feet, refusing to have the one spoonful Henri was insisting on me eating, (because that's his thing you know, you can only say no to something after trying at least on spoonful..Honey I still hate your one-spoonful rule, it's not fair!) I finally conceded and ate the whole thing.
I wouldn't admit that day that I absolutely LOVED it, it would have been too humiliating! It would have been even more humiliating than admitting the fact that I secretly sneak out to 7/11 some nights, and buy me a six pack of those silky, creamy, rich, caramel custards and quietly savor them in the dark! Plus, he would have won if I had said anything. And we all know that us women have to have the last word right?
And my last word is this: Amazing! no, Outstanding! no... ok can I use four words instead? Love In A Plate.
And this is what this pudding is all about!
Orange Caramel Pudding:
Yield: 6 servings
For the custard:
- 1L / 1 Quart whole milk
- 6 whole eggs
- 150g / 5.3oz caster sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, or the seeds of 1 vanilla pod
- Water for the "bain marie" (hot bath)
- 200g / 7oz caster sugar
- 1 orange
- water for blanching the peels
Wash the orange thoroughly and peel the skin off with a vegetable peeler. Cut the skin to very thin strips and blanch in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Take off the heat and spread evenly in the bottom of the ramekins.
I used a mix of citrus peels: clementine, orange and lemon.. feel free to do the same!!
Juice half of the orange then pour the juice and the caramel sugar in a pot, and bring to a boil until an amber colored caramel has formed. While still hot, coat the bottom of each ramekin with the melted caramel and let sit to harden.
In the meantime, prepare the custard:
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together with the sugar until thickened. Put the milk and vanilla in a pot, and gently bring up to barely a simmer. You want it hot, not boiling!
While whisking constantly, pour the hot milk on top of the eggs and keep whisking until well combined.
Fill the ramekins with the custard mix, and skim away any foam that has appeared on the surface.
Put the ramekins in a deep baking pan, and fill up to 3/4 in hot water (bain marie) This will ensure an even cooking temperature and a silky end result. And most importantly, there will be no splitting!
Pop in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes.
Remove from the oven, and let the custards cool down to room temperature while still in the water bath. Once cooled down, transfer to the refrigerator and chill for about 4 hours before serving.
To serve: Run a knife between the pudding and the edge of the ramekin, top with a serving plate and with a swift move, turn the plate down. Remove the ramekin and enjoy!