Coffee Crème Caramel

Coffee Créme Caramel recipe
Photo: Jenny Huang
Prep Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 5 mins

Opposites attract in this elegant Valentine's Day dessert: while the vanilla custard is delicate and creamy, the espresso-inflected caramel sauce comes on with stronger flavors. One silky spoonful, and you'll agree they bring out the best in each other.


  • ¾ cup sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon plus a pinch kosher salt (we use Diamond Crystal)

  • 1 tablespoon espresso or strongly brewed coffee

  • ½ vanilla bean, split, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 cup half-and-half

  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 large yolk


  1. In a small saucepan, stir together 1/4 cup sugar, pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon water. Cover and cook, without stirring, over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and mixture is bubbling, about 2 minutes. Remove lid; continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until amber, about 2 minutes more. Remove from heat; carefully stir in coffee (mixture will bubble).

  2. When bubbling subsides, pour caramel into a 3-cup ceramic dish, or divide between two 4-inch ramekins. Tilt to completely coat bottom and halfway up sides. Let cool completely at room temperature, about 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 325°F. Scrape vanilla seeds into a clean small saucepan; add vanilla pod, half and half, and 1/4 cup sugar. Heat over medium until bubbles form around edges; remove from heat. In a bowl, whisk together eggs and yolk, and remaining 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Slowly whisk into hot half-and-half mixture. Strain through a sieve.

  4. Pour into dish coated with caramel. Place in a roasting pan on center rack of oven; add boiling water to reach halfway up sides of custard dish. Bake until custard is set around edges and still slightly jiggly in center, 35 to 40 minutes.

  5. Remove dish from water bath and let cool completely, then refrigerate, uncovered, at least 2 hours and up to overnight. Run a thin, flexible knife around edge of crème caramel to release it. Place a serving plate on top, flip to unmold, and serve.

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