Crème Caramel Renversée (unmolded custard)

I CAN’T IMAGINE a more sensual dessert than Crème Caramel Renversée. The custard base is as sweet and velvety as a lingering kiss. The caramel topping shimmers like starlight. And get this — the entire dish requires just four ingredients — eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla. Follow me into the kitchen, and I’ll show you how to make this easy elegance:

Note #1: You might wonder about the pronunciation of Crème Caramel Renversée.   Crème is krem. Caramel is…well, caramel.  Renversée, which translates to “reversed,” or, in this case, “unmolded,” is pronounced  rahn-vehr-SAY.

Note #2: Utter “krem caramel rahn-vehr-SAY” on a crowded subway, and you’ll have to fend off marriage proposals.

Note #3: You could also call this dessert by it’s better-known Spanish name: “Flan,” or flawn.

Note #4: I don’t care what you call this dish. Just make it already!

First, make the caramel: Pour 1/2 cup of sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons of water into a heavy-based saucepan. Set the pan over a medium-low flame, and let the syrup boil quietly until it turns a lovely shade of caramel-brown — about 10 minutes.

Promptly tip the caramel into a fairly straight-sided mold of some kind. I used my 8-cup Charlotte mold, but you might like to make the dessert in a 6- or 8-cup souffle dish, or, if you have them, in little ramekins. Slowly swirl the mold so the caramel coats the entire bottom of the dish,  and about 2 inches of its sides.

The finished coating will look something like this. Of course, the caramel will harden in a matter of seconds. But it will become soft and syrupy during baking.

And that’s it!

Now for the custard:

Crack 5 large, whole eggs into a big mixing bowl…

Add 4 egg yolks (save the whites — they freeze perfectly) and beat them to smithereens with a wire whisk.

Then beat 3/4 cup of sugar into the eggs.

Gradually whisk in 3 3/4 cups of hot milk. I say “gradually,” because if you add the milk too quickly, you might scramble the eggs.

Note: I poured my milk into a 4-cup glass measure, and heated it in the microwave for 4 minutes.  If you don’t have a microwave, heat the milk in a saucepan on the stove. Heat it to just below the simmering point.

Finally, beat in 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract.

Now grab your fine-mesh sieve, and set it over the mold.


Because we want to filter out milk solids, and, heaven forbid, any bits of egg shell.

That’s why.

Pour the custard through the sieve…

Set the mold in a 2-inch (or slightly deeper) baking dish…

Add boiling water to come half-way up the sides of the mold…

And then bake it in the oven until set — 50-60 minutes at 350°F. (If you are baking your custard in ramekins, check them after 40 minutes.)

The custard is done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Let the dessert cool for at least 2 hours before unmolding. I let mine cool for 3 hours at room temperature.

And by the way, you can make Crème Caramel Renversée at least one day in advance.  Just cover the mold with a bowl before refrigerating.

To unmold, first run a knife along the edge of the custard, reaching all the way down to the bottom of the dish.

Then set a pretty serving plate over the mold…

Invert the two, and voila — you’ve got Crème Caramel Renversée!

You’re looking at one un-frickin’-believably delicious dessert.

Even your four-legged sous chef will be impressed.

When you serve this great beauty, be sure to spoon some of the pooled caramel onto each plate.

Delicious, delicious, delicious.

Here’s a copy-and-paste version of the above:

Crème Caramel Renversée
A traditional French/Spanish dessert, as made by Kevin Lee Jacobs
Ingredients for 6-8 servings
For the Caramel:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons water

For the custard:
5 large, whole eggs plus 4 egg yolks
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 3/4 cups whole milk, heated to just below the simmer
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Special Equipment: A 6-8-cup fairly straight-sided mold of some kind (I used a Charlotte mold, but a common souffle dish will work, too); a fine-mesh strainer; a baking dish which is at least 2 inches deep

The Caramel:
1. Pour the sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium-low flame. You can swirl the syrup by the handle of the pan, but do not stir it. Let boil quietly until the syrup turns caramel brown — about 10 minutes.

2. Immediately pour the caramel into the mold. Swirl the mold so that the syrup coats the bottom and about 2 inches of the sides.

The Custard:
Set the oven rack at the lower-third position; preheat the oven to 350°F
1. Put the whole eggs and the egg yolks in a big mixing bowl, and beat them with a wire whisk. Then whisk in the sugar. Whisking constantly, beat in the hot milk by big droplets, followed by the vanilla.

2. Set the strainer over the mold, and then pour in the custard. Set the mold in the baking dish, add enough boiling water to reach half-way up the sides of the mold, and then bake in the preheated oven until set — 50-60 minutes. The custard is done when a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

3. Let the custard cool to room-temperature — 2 to 3 hours (or cover with a bowl and refrigerate for up to 24 hours).

4. To unmold, first run a knife along the edge of the custard. Then set a serving plate over the mold, and invert the two.

Serve cold or at room temperature, spooning some of the pooled caramel onto each plate.

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More deliciousness:
Thyme & Wine Beef Stew
Chicken & Lemon Polpettine
Easy Appetizer: Onion & Asiago Rounds


  1. Anne from Kentucky says:

    Please could you be a good neighbor and bring me some? Im in bed with strep throat and I need something to make me better. This is my favorite!

  2. Dianne Rabchak says:

    I adore this dessert!
    Thank you!

  3. Brenda Johnson says:

    My mom used to make this for dessert occasionally when I was young… I remember it fondly- and will have to have a go at it myself! So glad your un-molding went well!!! 🙂

  4. Shriek!!! I think I can do this!!! I have all the ingredients! Thank you!!!! 🙂

  5. Ann Marie B. says:

    I love making this but I call it flan. 😉 Seriously, it’s the best stuff. The only difference is that I add a little lemon juice to my caramel and the custard is made with milk and cream.

  6. Jackie Leib says:

    You had my full attention at krem!!!!!

  7. Erin Brady says:

    Ahh, my favorite! And thanks for calling it creme caramel renveresse, flan just sounds unappetizing. Another on my to-bake list!

  8. Linda Anderson says:

    Thanks for another really great recipe. Can’t wait to try it-

  9. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    Magnificent! Love the sous chef with the tilted head.

  10. I have one suggestion for flan. When you bring it to the table before serving pour warm brandy over it and set it alight. Then serve with whipped cream. Not necessary but yummy.

  11. Victoria – What a sensible suggestion! I love bourbon and pyrotechnics in equal measure.

  12. Louise Brouillette says:

    Have you noticed that restaurants never serve Creme Caramel anymore? They all have Creme Brulee, which (in my opinion) is a lesser dessert. I always say, “Step away from the blow torch, chef!” I’m so glad to see that you love this dessert as much as I do!

  13. I’m starving now!!! My mouth waters and I must have some of this great looking custard!

  14. I have a horrible cold today, and no energy for skiing or snowshoeing. Guess I’ll entertain myself with this lovely sweet. My Gwennie gives her regards to your sweet beagle.

  15. Pat McIntosh says:

    Looks wonderful – BUT what temperature for the oven.
    bye, aPat

  16. Marcia from Northern Indiana says:

    I’m starving too. That gluten free French Toast is not sticking to my ribs. I’ve printed it for my notebook. Thanks, Kevin, for putting it in printable form. Cleaning the den right now.


  17. Our favorite dessert – my DH will be sooooooo impressed
    You make it look so easy — definitely will do before

    BUT WHAT TEMP in the OVEN???

    Thank you for this and everything else

  18. Pat & Rosemary — oven temp is is listed in the copy-and-paste version: 350°F.

  19. Oven temp 350* (see directions)
    Great recipe! Have to try this one.
    Kevin, I absolutely love how you make recipes simple whereas so many know-it-all chefs use complicated words which make their recipes seem too difficult for anyone else to accomplish the lovely result. Their methods are just discouraging.
    Thank you Keven for enabling and encouraging all of us.

  20. You got me at ‘CREME’ need say no more!!!

  21. Yum! This is my favorite dessert! Great simple recipe…think i’ll go make some now.

  22. Kip Morrissette says:

    Kevin, which grade of Milk do you use? No Fat, 1%, 2%, Whole? I always buy No Fat but when I make my Custard Pie, I find I like to mix it with either part Condensed or some level of Cream, same for my mashed potatoes. Thanks. I don’t want to mess up by ‘assuming’ whenever a recipe calls for milk and not get the results the recipe is made to have. I just LOVE your site!

  23. Hi Kip – So glad you asked. I use whole milk for creme caramel. I’ll specify this in the copy-and-paste version above.

  24. I just wanted to mention that in the copy & paste version it does not specify to bake the custard for less time if using ramekins. It does tell you that in the version with the pictures. Just to let anyone know in case they did the copy and paste and didn’t notice the difference.

  25. Liz Markwith says:

    Will the flan travel for several hours in the car if not unmolded? When is your cookbook being printed. I want all your recipes in one place where I won’t lose them.

  26. Cary Bradley says:

    Ooooh la la! Thank you for the reminder of a favorite dish. Haven’t made in ages and you’ve inspired me to add it back to the repertoire. Thank you, as always, dear friend. Hugs!

  27. Hi Liz Markwith – This dessert ought to travel very well. You are right — keep it in its mold until you reach your destination. As for cookbook, I hope (hope!) it will be available in December, 2014.

  28. I just made some, it’s in the oven now; but how do you wash out these hard, sticky utinsiles?

  29. Hi Yonder – Two ways to clean: Put hot water and sticky utensils in the pot that held the caramel, and let them soak for several hours. Or, much faster, bring the pot to the boil, throw the utensils in, and they will clean themselves in minutes.

  30. Love, love, love your blog! I’ll be making the creme caramel tomorrow for dessert, darling husband will be grilling steaks (we live in Florida!), so cozy dinner for three at home as Mom (she’s 93) lives with us!
    Happy Valentine’s Day to you!

  31. This did not go well for me. The caramel twice, crystallized, never turning brown. The creme was watery. Followed directions to a T.

    What do you think?

    It was delicious, however, but I was happy I did a trial run before making for guests. Decided on sour cherry sauce over ice cream.

  32. Kevin, How does this differ from Creme Brulle?

  33. maha turali says:

    I make that in a lower calorie version
    with egg beater,fat free milk, sugar, vanilla, orange peels,some grand Marnier liqueur.
    Beat all the ingredients. POur over the sugar coated mold.refrigerate few hours. Invert & enjoy

  34. maha turali says:

    I forgot to mention that when you burn the sugar, I don’t add any water…Keep stirring until the sugar is melted & brownish. No water

  35. Lucretia McClure says:


    I am hooked on you news letter♥ I am trying some of your receipts and checking them twice {Merry Christmas).

    I made Lemon Curd today , my receipt
    for Xmas gifts.

    Love all your info on African Violets one of my favorites.

    Grandma Lu

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