Vanilla-Lime Crème Caramel

So this is a little weird... It's like, "Chris, you're a data scientist! You do math and programming and stuff. Why are you talking about custards?" But it's because I love baking, and am proud of the stuff I make. So I'm going to start posting recipes that I like.

This recipe is adapted from "White Chocolate-Lime Crème Caramel" in The Art and Soul of Baking (2008), pp. 350—352.

Active Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 5.5 Hours
Yield: 6 Custards


CustardWhole milk3 cup / 24 oz
CustardSugar4.5 tbsp / 2.25 oz
CustardLime zest3 limes
CustardVanilla bean2 beans
CustardLarge egg4 or 5 eggs
Caramel liningWater0.75 cup / 6 oz
Caramel liningSugar1.5 cup / 10.5 oz
Caramel liningCream of tartar0.5 tsp
NOTE: I increased the quantity of all ingredients by a factor of 1.5. This should yield enough custard for 6 8-ounce ramekins. You can reduce back to the original quantity (multiply everything by 2/3) if you're using 6-ounce ramekins.


  • Medium saucepan
  • Small saucepan
  • Ceramic ramekins (x6)
  • Medium mixing bowl
  • Baking pan
  • Whisk
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Large measuring cup


  • Prepare the custard:
    • Heat the milk, sugar, vanilla bean, and lime zest in the medium saucepan over low heat until it reaches a simmer.
    • Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 1.5 hours (or longer for a stronger lime flavor)
  • Make the caramel:
    • Combine the water, sugar, and cream of tartar in the small saucepan.
    • Heat on low, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved.
    • Bring to a boil on high heat, swirling the contents occasionally
  • Line the ramekins:
    • Once the caramel reaches a deep golden-brown color, remove from the heat and distribute among the porecelain ramekins.
    • While the caramel is still liquid, tilt the ramekins to coat the sides in caramel[1]
  • Preheat the oven to 325° and place the baking pan on the middle rack
  • Temper the eggs:
    • Uncover the saucepan with the lime and vanilla-infused milk and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
    • Crack the eggs into the medium mixing bowl and whisk.
    • Whisking constantly, pour the heated milk into the mixing bowl, about 0.5 cups at a time.
    • Once all contents are thoroughly blended, strain the custard into the large measuring cup
  • Bake the custard:
    • Divide the custard evenly among the 6 porcelain ramekins.
    • Place the ramekins onto the baking pan.
    • Pour enough hot water into the baking pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
    • Lay aluminum foil on top of the ramekins, covering them entirely.
    • Bake the custards for about 40 minutes, or until they set (the centers no longer wiggle when you tap the ramekin with a spoon)
  • Cool the custards:
    • Remove the custards from the baking pan and transfer to a cooling rack.
    • Allow to cool to room temperature, about 40 minutes.
    • Refrigerate until cold, about 4 hours.
  • Unmold and serve:
    • Remove custard from the refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
    • Run a knife along the inner edge of the ramekin, pressing against the side of the ramekin as to not tear the custard.
    • Hold a serving plate on top of the ramekin and flip over. The custard should separate cleanly and fall onto the plate.
    • Optionally, garnish the custard with candied lime zest or candied lime peel and serve[2]


[1] — The caramel can be prepared and applied to the ramekins up to a day in advance. Just keep refrigerated until you're ready to build the custard.
[2] — Candied peel/zest is pretty easy to make. If you're using the full peel, cut it into quarter-inch-wide strips first and blanch. Bring equal parts sugar (in cups) water and sugar to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add the zest or peel and cook for 30 minutes (zest) or 60 minutes (peel), until the lime turns translucent. Remove with a slatted spoon, drain, and toss in sugar. Let dry and store in a sealed, airtight container. Refrigerate for up to 1 month.

Written by chris on Mar 23 2019, 6:54 PM.
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