Recently, I have been craving for a good crème caramel. I haven’t had one for a long time (perhap’s since I was a kid even), so I thought there must be an easy way to make them that doesn’t involve cooking them for 40 minutes in a bain-marie in the oven. That’s when I remembered that you can cook all sorts of things in the Varoma, so I researched for Thermomix variations of the classic French recipe and I found what I was looking for on Cocojano’s website, Les petits plats dans les grands. When I ate one, I was 8 years old again. Ah bliss!
Source: Les petits plats dans les grands
For 6 or 7 ramequins
2 tbsp water
500g milk (whole fat preferably)
1/2 vanilla pod or 1tsp vanilla extract
- To make the caramel, put the sugar and water in a saucepan. Heat on medium heat swirling the pan from time to time to spread the heat evenly. Do not stir.
- When the colour turns amber, pour a little bit of the caramel in each ramequin. Tilt the ramequins to spread the caramel around and set aside.
- Now, make the crème : put the eggs and sugar in the TM bowl and mix 10 sec/speed 5.
- Add the milk and vanilla and heat 5 min/70C/speed 2.
- Pour the mixture into the ramequins. Place them in the Varoma covered with baking parchement or greaseproof paper (if all the ramequins don’t fit in the Varoma, use the internal basket also). Don’t seal them with the paper as you want to let the air circulate. I find it helps if the paper is slightly wet.
- Put the lid on the Varoma and 1 litre of water in the bowl.
- Cook for 20 min/Varoma/speed 1.
- Carefully lift the ramequins with oven gloves and leave to cool at room temperature.
- Refrigerate and unmold (pass a small sharp knife around the edges to free the crème) and turn the pot upside-down on a plate.
Once you have made this caramel, you will become addicted to its yummy gooey texture and the caramel is well balanced with the saltiness of the butter. It is extremely versatile, so use it wherever you fancy (on pancakes, with ice cream, in yoghurt…)
(Source: C’est moi qui l’ai fait)
80g sugar (don’t use brown sugar as it doesn’t caramelise)
40g butter (the salted version)
100ml single cream
A pinch of sea salt
- Put the sugar in a large saucepan on a medium heat and wait without stirring until it turns into an amber coloured liquid. It is important not to stir as it cools down the sugar and prevents it from turning into caramel. Once it has turned golden brown and liquid, stir very gently to bring the sugar that has not yet browned into the center of the pan and let it brown. Make sure the heat is not too intense as the caramel must cook slowly. Don’t overcook it as it would become bitter.
- While the sugar cooks, heat the cream in the microwave until just starting to boil.
- As soon as all the sugar has turned liquid, take it off the heat and add the cream in one go (careful of the hot projections!)
- Stir and add the butter, mixing well with a spoon.
- Bring the saucepan back to the medium heat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until all the hard caramel bits have melted.
- Add the pinch of sea salt and stir some more.
- Pour into a sterilised jar and leave to cool down (to sterilise: either heat the jars in the oven at 150C for 10 minutes or pour boiling water in the jars and wait for 10 minutes before pouring the water out. Make sure you sterilise the jar tops as well).
- These can keep for months at room temperature as long as the jars are not opened. Once opened, consume within a week (that shouldn’t be too hard) and keep refrigerated.
I bought some apricots last week but had no precise idea of what to do with them. I looked around for some ideas and stumbled upon that yummy recipe from Puce bleue
. Instead of making individual portions though, I used a square silicone mould (20 x 20cm ) . The result exactly met my expectations: the soft apricots were melting in the mouth and their acidity balanced well with the sweetness of the cake and the caramel.
1 tsp vanilla essence
10g salted butter
8 to 10 apricots cut in half and stoned
100g unsalted butter, softened
40g muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
50g ground almond
1 tsp baking powder
- Preheat the oven 180C (170C fan oven)
- If using a cake tin, butter the sides and line the bottom with baking parchment
- Stir the sugar and vanilla essence in a thick bottom pan.
- Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and turns a light brown colour (watch as if it cooks too much, it will turn bitter).
- Away from the heat, add the butter and stir well. Pour over the bottom of the cake tin or silicone mould
- Cover with the apricot halves
- Put all the cake ingredients in the TM bowl and mix 20 sec, speed 6 (or mix them by hand in a bowl) and pour the batter over the apricots, using a spoon to make sure they are all covered.
- Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Turn over a serving dish as soon as it’s out of the oven
Macaroons are a little high maintenance in that when you’re making them, you should devote all your attention to them and not disperse yourself on other tasks. That said, they are definitely within reach of everyone as long as you organise well before starting. Make sure you have all the ingredients and tools on the worktop (including the baking trays) so that when the mixture is done, it is not sitting there waiting. One more word of caution, if you are going to do a lot of patisserie, I would advise getting a very precise scale (1 g precision) as measurements are far more important than for other types of cooking.
To succeed in making macaroons, it is important that you follow the advice below.
- Use “aged” egg whites, i.e. egg whites that have been separated at least 3 days in advance and kept in a hermetique box (like a tupperware or any clean plastic box with a lid). Don’t worry about the freshness of the egg whites as they will be cooked. If you are not going to make macaroons within the next 3 weeks, then I would advise to freeze them (they freeze very well).It is better to let the egg whites reach room temperature before starting. This, along with the above point, is to liquify the whites so they get really firm when beaten.
- Make sure you either sieve the ground almond/icing sugar mixture or you mix it in a food processor. This is to remove any lump.
- Macaroons need to be piped on the baking tray (lined with either a silicone sheet or baking paper) at least one hour before baking them. This is to allow for a crust to form on top and will ensure the top of the macaroon is nice and smooth. Also, tap the tray on a table/worktop once to remove any bubble that would have formed while piping.
- Use 2 trays stacked on each other when baking the macaroons. Leave one in the oven while preheating and slide the other with the piped macaroons on top. This will form the “colerette” (the crown that is so typical of macaroons).
- Finally, know your oven. Especially if you’re going to use light colour for your macaroons, make sure the oven temperature is not too high. This would discolour the macaroons and you would end up with yellowish macaroons!
Update: I have realised that the proportions given for the ground almond and icing sugar were wrong so I have modified accordingly.
200 120g ground almond
200 220g icing sugar (you can make it in Thermomix)
90g egg whites
Food colouring of your choice (preferably in powder form to avoid changing the structure of the mixture)
For the Ganache :
150g Butter caramel
- Prepare the ganache in advance to allow it to cool down.
- Line the baking trays with baking paper or silicone sheet (you need 2 baking trays + 2 that will stay empty for cooking)
- Take out all the ingredients (egg whites a few hours in advance) and tools needed: silicone spatula, piping bag + round nozzle, scale and a big bowl
- You can make your own icing sugar in the Thermomix by mixing the 200g of sugar at speed 10 for 1 minute.
- Mix together the ground almond and the icing sugar in the Thermomix (20 sec, speed 6) or a food processor (not a blender) to remove any lump. Don’t overheat the powder though! Tip out and reserve in the big bowl.
- Clean the Thermomix bowl and dry thoroughly. Put the egg whites in the TM bowl and put in the butterfly whisk
- Leaving the measuring cup off, whisk on speed 3.5 (don’t set any time)
- When the whites start to foam, add 1/3 of the sugar through the hole. Continue whisking until the sugar is absorbed then add the second 1/3 of sugar. When the egg whites start to firm up, add the last 1/3 of sugar. Continue whisking until the egg whites are really firm and add the food colouring (quantity is up to you but add a small amount at a time until you’re satisfied with the result).
- Stop whisking at this stage and carefully remove the whites from the bowl with the spatula into the bowl where the ground almond and icing sugar mixture is sitting.
- Now use a silicone spatula to fold in the almond mixture. Cut in the middle of the bowl with the spatula and turn the bowl a 1/4 to the left (if you’re right-handed, to the right otherwise). Continue doing this until all the almond is mixed in. Now you don’t have to be too delicate here as you want the mixture to be well mixed and it should form a ribbon when pouring it from a height.
- As soon as this is done, put the mixture in a piping bag with a round nozzle (about 1 cm wide). Evacuate any air out of the opening of the piping bag using your hand and push the mixture towards the nozzle to remove air bubbles.
- Hold the piping bag firmly in your hand as shown in the picture and move to your ready lined baking tray
- With the nozzle about 0.5 cm away from the tray (at a 45 degree angle) pipe out a small amount of the macaroon mixture (about a walnut size).
- Continue piping a line of macaroons well spaced (they will spread out while resting). See picture to see how to arrange them on the baking tray.
- Let the macaroons rest for 1 hour at room temperature
- Preheat your oven at 150C (even less if your oven tends to oevrheat) with an empty baking tray in it. It’s important to do that (as mentioned in the points above) so the crown is formed while they cook.
- Add the tray with the macaroons on top of the empty tray and cook for about 10 minutes (again, check them through the window to make sure they don’t get yellow)
- When they’re cooked, leave them out for a few minutes before carefully lifting them out with a thin spatula. Don’t worry if they look a bit too soft underneath.
- Fill them with your ganache and store in an air-tight container in the fridge for at least 2 days before eating (I know it’s torture but they are much, much better after 2 days as the flavours will have developed!). They also freeze very well…