Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Pateeli, sometimes called flan or crème caramel, is served all over Western Europe, especially in France and Spain. It can be difficult to make and serve when cooked in large tins, so my mom opts for small individually sized portions that set quickly and easily. This reduces the possibility of cooked edges with a wobbly uncooked center.
TOP TIP FOR THE BAIN-MARIE
A bain-marie is used to cook flans, crème caramels and crème brûlées. This form of cooking provides even heat around the whole ramekin, which in turn ensures an even cooking process. To make a bain-marie at home, set each filled ramekin in a deep-sided tray. Then, using a kettle with a small spout, pour hot water into the tray, filling the tray about halfway up the tray. Be very careful not to splash water into the ramekins!
TOP TIP FOR THE RAMEKINS
The kind of ramekin matters so I have linked my favorites here. I use metal ramekins instead of ceramic ones mostly because that's always what I've used.
makes six individual pateelis
First, preheat the oven to 325F (160C) degrees. Then spoon a teaspoon of granulated sugar into each of the six little ramekins. I usually use metal ramekins, but the ceramic ones are also just as good. Turn the stove onto high heat and using tongs, hold each ramekin above the flame till the sugar melts into a golden syrup. Be careful not to let the sugar burn. If it does burn, wash out the ramekin and start again. Alternatively, you can heat the sugar using a hand torch.
Place each ramekin into a deep tray. The sugar will slowly harden and crack; that is absolutely fine. While that cools, prepare the filling.
Beat 2 eggs and 2 cups of milk together. Then add a 3/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and 3.5 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk it all together well. Pour the filling into each ramekin, leaving about a centimeter of space at the top (pro tip: I pour the filling into a pourable jug to fill the ramekins, super helpful).
Very gently, place the tray in the oven. Before closing the oven door, make a bain-marie by filling the tray halfway with water (pro tip: the pourable jug is extremely useful again here). Be careful not to splash water into any of the ramekins. Bake for approximately 60 minutes. They are ready when the tops are golden brown and the centers are a little bit wobbly. Let the pateelis cool completely and then refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
To serve, use a sharp knife to cut around the edge of the ramekin. Flip the ramekin onto a plate and give it a good shake. The pateeli should pop out and the whole dessert should be swimming in a delicious pool of golden sugary syrup...
Goes well with a cup of tea, of course.