This is a French classic. In order to make the best crème caramel you need to cook the caramel to a dark colour, almost to the point of burning. The degree of colour determines the result; too blonde - the caramel will be sweet with no caramel flavour, too dark - the caramel will be bitter!
- Preheat the oven to 170°C/325F/gas mark 3.
- Over a medium heat, bring the water and sugar to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes to a rich brown caramel colour, remove the hot saucepan from the heat and strain into 4 ramekin moulds, (5cm deep x 8cm).
- Mix the milk and the vanilla and bring to a simmer for 3-4 minutes to allow the vanilla to infuse. In a mixing bowl, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolks with the sugar. Slowly whisk in the milk. Strain the mixture into the caramel moulds.
- Place the tray in the preheated oven. Pour boiling water into the tray so that the water level reaches the same depth as the crème mix inside the moulds. Cook for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven, cool down and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- To release the crème caramel from the mould, press the blade of a knife against the mould in-between the crème caramel and take it around in a full circle, then turn it upside down onto the serving plate (you can also serve it in the mould in which it has been cooked).