Vietnamese Crème Caramel

Mr. dB isn’t really one for desserts but one thing he is obsessed with is custard, in virtually any form. Same for myself and coffee. So this dessert is a combo of those loves, and it’s also based around the first dessert my man ever taught me! (He’s too rough and ready to bake and so once made me 6 of these for my last birthday ‘cake’!!)

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  • Making the caramel: start with a cold pan; I can almost guarantee this will stop you from burning your sugar. Work with lower, slower heat and achieve a nice, golden caramel. It will thicken once it cools we so need to go for a syrupy fluid rather than a gloopy thick sauce!
  • If you’d like to use a vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and heat through in the milk with the pod ‘skin’ and lemongrass; discarding the stalks/pod together. I like the purity of the yellow custard however who, really, can resist a vanilla fleck?
  • When making the custard, it’s important to strain it to remove any of the unsightly ‘globby’ albumen from the egg whites. It’s also important to cool the milk down slightly before adding it to the egg mix so we don’t end up with sugared scrambles!

The water bath is essential as it creates a nice steamer – there’s nothing less attractive than a burned custard and by steaming this dessert we get beautiful clean bums! Do go slowly when removing the ramekins from the steamer; Mr. dB has Teflon hands but for me, I rely on tongs – even oven mitts are a bit too cumbersome!

Vietnamese Crème Caramel

This is a bahn flan, a Vietnamese dish based on the French classic!
Course: Brunch, Dessert
Cuisine: French, Fusion, Vietnamese
Keyword: Brunch, Creme Caramel, Dessert, Sweet
Servings: 6


  • Large baking tray for a water bath
  • Foil
  • 6 x ¾ cup ramekins
  • Pastry brush
  • Thick-bottomed pan
  • Tongs (with silicon ‘grabbers’ ideal)



  • 220 Grams Cane sugar Coconut or golden caster sugar also work well
  • 80 Mil Espresso Room temperature


  • 1 Cup Milk Whole; full-fat
  • 4 Lemongrass stalks
  • 5 Eggs Large; free-range if possible
  • 1/3 Cup Cane sugar Coconut or golden caster sugar
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla extract Or 1 vanilla pod – see recipe notes
  • 1 Tsp Butter


Getting started

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F fan / 160C/320F / gas mark 4.
  • Remove the outer leaf (leaves) of the lemongrass and, using the back of your knife, bruise the stalks to release the oils (you don’t want to chop the lemongrass, but bash it a little). Steep it in the milk to start infusing the flavour.

Making the caramel

  • In a cold thick-bottomed pan, add your 220g of sugar and the Espresso and place the pan over medium-high heat. Have a pastry brush with a glass of water beside your pan. Occasionally swirl the pan to dissolve the sugar, and sweep any crystals from the sides of the pan with the wet pastry brush back into the forming caramel. This will take approximately 5 minutes.
  • While your caramel is forming, very lightly butter your ramekins – you want a very thin layer to make your ramekins non-stick, not so much butter you can taste it! When the caramel is a nice golden brown and thickening, remove the pan from the heat and equally pour the caramel into each ramekin, filling up to 1cm. Quickly wash your pan as the sugar will stick!


  • Gently heat the milk and lemongrass; bring it up to a boil for 5 seconds and immediately take the pan off the heat.
  • Crack your eggs into a mixing bowl and mix in the sugar, vanilla extract and coconut milk. Remove the lemongrass from the milk, and whisk it through the egg mix. Strain the mixture into a jug/bowl with a pourer and set aside. Heat a full kettle.
  • Check your caramel has set in your ramekins. Gently press a finger onto the top of the caramel;you want a bit of resistance. If you’re ready, pour the custard onto the caramel slowly over the back of a large spoon, making sure the custard is not flowing beneath the caramel – in which case wait another 5 minutes. Evenly fill each ramekin and place them into the baking tray.
  • Taking care not to pour the water onto the desserts, pour the hot water from the kettle and fill the baking tray to half-way up the ramekins. Cover the tray tightly with foil and place into the oven to cook for 25 minutes.
  • Remove the foil and continue to bake for approximately 10 more minutes until your custard has set.You can test this by carefully touching the surface of the custard – if it is still fluid, it needs to cook a little longer.
  • Once the custards are set, remove them carefully from the water bath. Allow the ramekins to cool to room temperature and place in the fridge until you’re ready to serve!


  • Plating a crème caramel is all in the flip! Remove your caramels from the fridge five minutes before serving. Gently run a toothpick or a knife around the outside of the custard, taking care not to push too far into the dessert.
  • Prepare a wide, small bowl and place it on top of your dish then,holding the plate firmly on top and the ramekin from underneath, flip the dessert onto the plate. Garnish with the extra lemongrass leaves for a fine dining look and dig in!


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Author: thedbkitchen

Niche-free recipes, created out of a pure love of food, by home cook Carmel de Bedin (that’s me!). Genuine, accessible dishes tried and taste-tested by a couple of food nerds who truly love a good meal.

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