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Baked Caramel

Serves 6-8

250g/9oz/1 ¼ cups milk
60ml/4tbsp water
1 vanilla pod or 10ml/2tsp vanilla essence
425ml/14fl oz/1 ¾ cups milk
250ml/8fl oz 1cup whipping cream
5 large eggs
2 egg yolks

Put 175g/6oz/ ¾ cup of the sugar in a small heavy saucepan with the water to moisten. Bring to the boil over a high heat, swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar. Boil, without stirring until the syrup turns a dark caramel colour (this will take about 4-5minutes). Immediately, pour the caramel into 1litre/1 ¾ pint 4cup soufflé dish. Holding the dish with oven gloves, quickly swirl the dish to coat the base and sides with the caramel and set aside, (the caramel will harden quickly as it cools). Place the dish in a small roasting tin Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. With a small sharp knife, carefully split the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape the black seeds into a medium saucepan or add ½ tsp natural vanilla essence.. Add the milk and cream and bring just to the boil over a medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Remove the pan from the heat, cover and set aside for 15-20 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolks with the remaining sugar for 2-3 minutes until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the hot milk and carefully strain the mixture into the caramel-lined dish. Cover with foil. Place the dish in a roasting tin and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake the custard for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted about 5cm/2in from the edge comes out clean (the custard should be just set. Remove from the roasting tin and cool for at least half an hour, then chill overnight. To turn out, carefully run a sharp knife around the edge of the dish to loosen the custard. Cover the dish with a serving plate and holding them tightly, invert the dish and plate together. Gently lift one edge of the dish, allowing the caramel to run over the sides, then slowly lift off the dish
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