Sharing Food and Memories with Friends and Family

September 30, 2012
Irene Saiger


Micheline’s Creme Caramel

We are standing in the kitchen together again, as we have for more than 50 years, but this time we weren’t in her kitchen.  The location doesn’t seem to matter, we have an easy rhythm that two people share when they are just happy to be together.  Like a duet, effortless, even though we hadn’t practiced in a long time.  We shop, cook, eat, drink, and talk, and after resting we start all over again.  I learned that our Uncle David was going to be a rabbi, she learned that my favorite wine is Vouvray.   We have history, both genetic and the kind that comes from having lived in close proximity to each other, and despite our mature ages, she is still my role model.  I am astonished that she arrives to cook with perfectly done hair and make-up, wearing a twin sweater-set she could just as easily have been dressed for an afternoon at the museum.

On Friday afternoon Micheline took center stage, no recipe in hand to guide her, just years of practice and the experience of having prepared this dish hundreds of times.  I stood and watched, still learning from my cousin who has already taught me so much about food, family, and life.

After the first day of Yontif,  Micheline went home, and we discovered a brown bag with her custard pan, the slightly larger pan which she uses for a Bain-marie , along with the small Corningware pot that she uses to make her caramel.  I called her to see if we should ship them to her, but she said to keep them.  Now those pans belong to my son and daughter-in-law.  May they use them in good health, and have them as a reminder of the wonderful Rosh Hashana that they created for the family.  Maybe one day they too will make crème caramel.

I called  Micheline this morning and she asked me to share this part of the story.  That afternoon, she trustingly left me to watch over the crème caramel while she ran to the market.  I over-baked it and “ruined it.”   I hope she will forgive me, but it was a lesson well learned and one I don’t think I will ever forget.  There is still so much to learn.  Chag Sameach.

Photo taken by Glenda Amit

Micheline’s Creme Caramel
(original recipe from Mireille)


8 egg yolks and 4 whole eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 quart whole milk

dash of salt

2 tsp vanilla

In a large mixing bowl, mix eggs with sugar, then add milk and salt, ending with vanilla.  Set aside.



1 cup sugar

water to cover

To make the caramel, place sugar in a small saucepan and add just enough water to cover the sugar, no more than that.  Place pan on stove over medium heat.  Do not stir.  Allow syrup to boil until it starts to turn dark brown.  Then quickly remove from the heat and immediately pour into baking dish, tilting pan till bottom is covered with caramel.


Pour custard over caramel.  Place larger pan in the oven and put custard-filled pan inside of it.  Carefully add cold water in between the two pans, 2/3 up the side.  Not too much!  We don’t want it to flow over into the crème caramel.

Set oven temperature to 350° F.  and bake for about 30 minutes. The water should not boil during baking. The custard is done when it has set, which you can test by inserting a  knife which should come out clean.  DO NOT OVERBAKE. Allow the custard to cool completely, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate till serving time.  To serve, run a knife along the outside and turn over onto a dessert plate.  Serves 10-12



6 thoughts on “Micheline’s Creme Caramel

  1. Hi Irene, Once again, I love your posts!! And mostly i love your family sotries. So here is one of mine. My dad as we know was in the restaurant business. When i was young, he would come up with some idea for a new recipe for the restuarant and would try the recipe out at home first. Over and over again. For some reason, it was the desert recipes he would try out at home. My father has this pholosophy that the best way to get a recipe just right, is to try it over and over vary one thing at time till it is just the way you want it. Once he ate a cheese cake he tried to reproduce, we had cheese cake coimng out of our ears. I remember the first few times he made it, he would give it away to visitors and I would get distreesed. However after billions of cheesecakes, i was happy whan he would give one away. He also went on a custard kick. We had zillions of custards ( never liked them as much as the cheesecakes but i did like them), and one of the things he wanted to do was like a creme carmel, for some reason, he was never satisfied with the results, i have thought that had he known of creme brulee, and to use a blow torch, he might have been happy, but now, after reading Michelen’s recipe, i see that maybe i was wrong. He did come up with an orange rice custard that he served at NIbblers, it think it was based on my moms orange custand a blintz casserole recipe.

    Great to see a pic of Michelene! Chag Sameach! Barbie

    • I love that story Barbie! You should get a recipe and we can share this story!! You must have hundred of restaurant memories and should cherish them!!

      Chag Sameach and thank you!!


  2. Hi, Irene.

    I have to tell you that this was one of your very best. It was just so wonderful that I did not want it to end. Thanks for bringing tears of joy to my eyes. I just enjoyed it so much.

    Have a very happy Sukkot.

    Love, your shvester.

  3. I Guess the key is do not overbanked I read that loud and clear do not overbake sounds yummy bye-bye

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