Coffee and Cardamom Flavored Creme Caramel

Coffee and Cardamom Flavored Creme Caramel Recipe

Crème caramel is one of my favorite desserts. It's basically a rich custard with a layer of soft caramel. I dressed this one up with a little espresso powder and cardamom.

Making these desserts reminded me of my childhood. My mom would tell me every day not to eat anything before dinner, but after coming home from school, I would always make a beeline to the refrigerator when she wasn't looking. I would get one crème caramel, flip it onto a plate, and let the delicious caramel flow in every direction. It didn't last very long; I would inhale the dessert and lick all the caramel off the plate before I got caught. You would think that I wouldn't really have enjoyed the dessert because I ate it so fast, but there was something thrilling (and delicious) about sneaking a bite without anyone knowing.  Maybe that's why I named my site Pham Fatale.  I've been in the (food) espionage business for a long time!

These covert operations inevitably would make me too full for dinner. I know I was a terrible child! My parents always wondered why I never ate, and have probably been unaware of my antics until now. Sorry Mom!

I think, in America, crème caramel and flan can be used interchangeably.


Yields: 14

1-1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
2-2/3 cups half and half
3/4 tablespoon instant coffee powder
3 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
1/2 teaspoon cardamom extract
1 vanilla bean, slit lengthwise


Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Line up 14 2.75-ounce mini-ramekins. In a small saucepan, gently dissolve a little less than a cup of sugar with water. Bring to a full boil, then lower to medium-low until the caramel becomes golden brown (about 5-6 minutes). As soon as the caramel is the right golden brown color, pour a layer of caramel into each ramekin.

Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean. On the stove, pour the half and half into a sauce pan. Dissolve the coffee powder into the half and half and add the grains of vanilla and the vanilla bean. Bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat right away. Let the liquid cool a bit. Discard the vanilla bean.

Separately, whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs with the rest of the sugar in a mixing bowl until it becomes pale yellow. Add the cardamom extract. Combine the coffee liquid with the egg mixture by slowly adding a ladle of the coffee mixture at a time to prevent the yolks from curdling.

Strain through a fine mesh.  Fill the 14 mini ramekins with the mixture. Place them in a warm water bath in a deep baking pan. The water should go half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake for 10 minutes at 300°F, then lower the heat to 275°F for 45-50 minutes. The texture of the crème caramel should be jiggly but not too liquid.

Let the crèmes cool first, then plastic-wrap each individual ramekin and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

When serving, place a dessert plate onto each ramekin and turn both upside down to unmold crème caramel onto the plate.

Bon appétit!


I added coffee and cardamom to the crème caramel because knowing I'm feeding a crowd of vegetarians, I didn't want them to complain about an eggy taste. Cardamom is a very versatile spice that goes well with both savory and sweet dishes. You can find cardamom extract in Indian stores.

Set aside the egg whites in the refrigerator and save for making tuiles (literally roof tiles in French). I'll post the recipe very soon.

This recipe yields 14 mini-ramekins. You can serve the creme caramels in regular size ramekins but I prefer using the small version for more caramel coating.

When making the caramel, make sure all the sugar is dissolved and there is no sugar on the side of the saucepan. This way no sugar gets burnt and you have an easier clean-up. Prior to placing the saucepan on the stove, I usually slightly dissolve the sugar by creating a swirl in the center of the saucepan with my finger. During the caramelization process, if you see sugar on the side of the saucepan, just brush the side with a wet brush. Believe me, it's so hard to get burnt sugar off a pan!

When making caramel, you have to be very careful. Don't  go away from the stove, even if the phone rings or someone's at the door. If you wait too long, the caramel will taste bitter or even worse, it will be burnt. So watch your caramel carefully because it changes color very fast. 

As opposed to crème caramels, crème brulées have a hard caramel topping. Check out my other French custard desserts.

If you don't have half and half, just mix 1 part whole milk with 1 part heavy cream.

Flip the crème caramel only when you're ready to serve. If you want to be even more cautious, you can use a paring knife around the crème caramel right before flipping the ramekin.

When it's time to clean up, just boil some water and pour the hot water into the ramekins so the caramel dissolves immediately for an easy clean-up.

creme caramel recipe

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on July 5, 2009.


These look wonderful. I have never had much success with my creme caramels but not I think I should try again. I certainly like it with the addition of cardamom...I love cardamom. Yummmy....great shots too

Trish Website Link
[ Posted at 6:59 AM on 7/5/09 | Reply ]
OMG...I was just thinking of making creme caramels for a Sunday evening treat! Now I'll be stealing your recipe!

Amrita Website Link
[ Posted at 10:28 AM on 7/5/09 | Reply ]
This is probably my favorite dessert. There seems to be something a bit different about flan, but perhaps I'm incorrect about that. I love flan, too. The additions of both the coffee and cardamom would be wonderful, I'd imagine.

Jen of a2eatwrite Website Link
[ Posted at 12:46 PM on 7/5/09 | Reply ]
This looks just stunning. I have only had a flan once in my life and I remember it as being fabulous. Your flavor combinations are lovely.

Michelle Website Link
[ Posted at 2:25 PM on 7/5/09 | Reply ]
What a beautiful creme caramel! The flavors sound wonderful too!

Holly Website Link
[ Posted at 3:49 PM on 7/5/09 | Reply ]
[-] delicious! - Guest-justine
you creme carmel looks silky and delicious. I love cardamom so this is definitely getting bookmarked!!

justine Website Link
[ Posted at 7:50 PM on 7/5/09 | Reply ]
[-] Simply...Gluten-free - Guest-CarolSImplyGlutenfree
These look so beautiful, I want one right now and it is only 7 in the morning!

Carol, SImply...Gluten-free Website Link
[ Posted at 4:18 AM on 7/6/09 | Reply ]
[-] Coffee and Cardamom Flavored Creme Caramel - Guest-Natasha5StarFoodie
Very decadent and sounds heavenly with cardamom and coffee flavor!

Natasha - 5 Star Foodie Website Link
[ Posted at 9:36 AM on 7/6/09 | Reply ]
Oooh, cardamom. Our super fave spicy addition to sweet and savory dishes. This sounds so creamy, smooth, rich and spicy.

The Duo Dishes Website Link
[ Posted at 2:07 PM on 7/6/09 | Reply ]
Jackie, I LOVE, LOVE. LOVE this. Also one of my faves but the addition of cardamom is gorgeous.

Syrie Website Link
[ Posted at 8:32 PM on 7/6/09 | Reply ]
LOL - nice job licking the plate so you wouldn't get caught! I love the cardamom you added - yum!

Kerstin Website Link
[ Posted at 8:53 PM on 7/6/09 | Reply ]
Absolutely scrumptious looking dessert. Love it! And the cardamom must add so much!

Donna Website Link
[ Posted at 4:40 AM on 7/7/09 | Reply ]
This looks delicious....good excuse for me to go buy some ramekins! I always order this when I am out, so I am excited to try it at home.

Errin Website Link
[ Posted at 9:47 AM on 7/7/09 | Reply ]
[-] Julia @ Mélanger - Guest-JuliaMlanger
Wow, how lucky were you having crème caramel in the fridge when you were a kid. I wouldn't have been able to resist, either! :) I love the coffee and cardamon idea. I just made macarons that flavour during my "Finnish baking" month. I am totally addicted to cardamon now. It's delicious! These look amazing. I have never made crème caramel before but would love to give them a go. I would have to use my excess egg whites for macarons, not tuiles though. ;)

Julia @ Mélanger Website Link
[ Posted at 2:10 PM on 7/7/09 | Reply ]
[-] Sneaky child! - Guest-TangledNoodle
I would have done the same thing, too! 8-)

This crème caramel is wonderful! My husband loves custard desserts, whether it's this, crème brulée or leche flan. The richness of it precludes our having it often but when we do, it's such a treat! I love the coffee and cardamom flavors in this.

Tangled Noodle Website Link
[ Posted at 2:18 PM on 7/12/09 | Reply ]
I would have never thought of blending coffee and cardamom but it sounds amazing! I'm going to have to try that soon!

Alex Website Link
[ Posted at 11:31 AM on 8/4/09 | Reply ]
OMG! This IS to die for!

Paz (salivating)

Paz Website Link
[ Posted at 9:53 AM on 8/12/09 | Reply ]

Order my latest book:
Banh Mi

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