Thai Coffee Creme Caramel

Thai Coffee Creme Caramel

I am a big fan of Thai coffee and Thai iced tea. The iced tea, which is regular iced tea sweetened with [usually a lot] of sweetened condensed milk, is probably a bit more common than the coffee version, but the coffee is made the same way, with sweetened condensed milk. The milk is thick and very sweet, with rich caramel flavor to it, and it makes an amazing pairing with both drinks. When I saw this recipe for Thai Coffee Creme Caramel in the New York Times Dessert Cookbook, I was intrigued and couldn’t wait to see how the flavor translated from drink to dessert.

I’ll cut to the chase: it was fantastic. I can’t remember the last time I had such a light, smooth and creamy flan. It wasn’t tough or gelatinous at all (which some of the less-good flans I’ve tried have been), but incredibly silky and light. The only reason that there are little flecks of flan sitting in the caramel around the dessert in the photo above is that I have never been particularly good at unmolding creme caramel and tend to slice into the custard slightly if I slide my knife around it; I usually just cheat and eat it straight out of the ramekin, caramel and all. The coffee and caramel notes in the dessert were excellent and really represented the original coffee drink well. As an additional bonus, this dessert has only a couple of ingredients and is remarkably easy to make.

I didn’t make the caramel for the dessert – which is poured into the bottom of the ramekin before baking – too dark because I didn’t want a burnt sugar flavor to dominate the dish. Stop at a light or medium amber color, nothing darker than that. The recipe calls for a strong coffee extract to provide the coffee flavor, and has a base made with egg yolks, condensed milk and water. Save the egg whites to make angel food cake or angel food cupcakes the day you’re planning to make these.

This creme caramel is best served chilled, and while it can be eaten at room temperature, it is best to give it a few hours in the fridge to firm up a little further before serving. To unmold, dip the ramekin in a bowl of very hot water for about 20 seconds and invert onto a serving dish. You can slide a thin knife around the edge to loosen the custard, if necessary, but keep in mind that this method might not result in an unmolding that is quite as clean as the hot-water-only method (although it really helps in getting the thing out!).

Thai Coffee Creme Caramel
(from the NY Times Dessert Cookbook; also online here)
7 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp coffee extract
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
14-oz water
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 300F. Get out 6 8-oz ramekins and a 9×13-inch baking dish.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, vanilla extract, coffee extract, sweetened condensed milk and water (use the can from the sweetened condensed milk to measure the water) until smooth. Let stand for 20 minutes.
Put a large saucepan of water, about 4 cups, over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, place sugar in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until sugar caramelizes and turns an amber color, about 5-10 minutes. Pour a little of the caramel into each of the 6 ramekins and swirl to coat the bottom. If there is leftover caramel, evenly distribute it in the ramekins. Let set for 2-3 minutes
Strain egg mixture into a large measuring cup. Pour into ramekins. Place ramekins in 9×13-inch baking dish and put the dish in the oven. Before closing the oven door, carefully pour hot water from the large saucepan into the baking dish to form a water bath.
Bake custards for about 30 minutes, until set. When jiggled, the custard should move evenly and should not be wet in the center.
Remove custards from water bath and let cool at room temperature. Custards can be refrigerated.
To serve, dip each ramekin in very hot water for about 20 seconds to loosen the caramel. Turn out onto individual serving dishes.

Serves 6.


  1. I’m drinking thai iced tea right now and that looks so good!

  2. I’d probably attribute the coffee with sweetened and condensed milk to the Vietnamese, but I am definitely going to try this recipe. I fell in love with the Vietnamese coffee. In Thailand, interestingly, we were served instant coffee nearly everywhere! Lots of migration occurs in Southeast Asia, and clearly cultural tastes are beginning to merge.

  3. I know I shouldn’t do this. But I can’t resist. First the disclaimer…reading the recipe makes it sound like it would be heaven on my tongue. Now for the direct comment….it looks like fancy feast. Is there a way to mold it into something less fancy feast like?

  4. Oh My Guy! This looks Wonderful! I am trying this recipe this weekend! I do have to agree with Jillian. LOL any other mold can be used?

  5. I don’t know what to tell you guys; all flans look like this! You can try using things other than standard ramekins, but the custard is delicate and I think you’ll have a very difficult time unmolding it.
    If you really dislike the traditional flan look, just serve this directly in the ramekin without turning it out.

  6. this is really interesting ,ust be delicious. I m drooling :) Your site is awesome !

  7. This looks so good. Its inspiring because as delicious as plain flan is, it is really something that you can almost flavor with anything and have that smooth cool texture! Great job!

  8. What a delicious idea!!!

  9. Mmm I love coffee flavoured things and delicious creamy things so this sounds and looks perfect.

  10. Very interesting…now I’m inspired to try a chocolate version.

  11. oooh love the sound of this!

  12. This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try a modified non-dairy version of it to post on my blog.

  13. Wow, Nicole. This looks delicious!! I love the NYT Baking Book. Sooo good! What an inspired recipe. Thai iced tea has to be one of my favorite indulgences, and I can’t wait to try the coffee. Sorry I’ve been away from blogging/commenting for so long. I just finished up with my exams and am finally getting around to my google reader :) Everything looks delicious!

  14. Nicole, as soon as this page loaded my eyes were drawn to that flan! It looks delicious!
    Just one question- anything I can use in place of coffee extract when I make this?

  15. This looks to be so much better than regular flan. Being that my hubby is Portugese, traditional flan is served at every gathering so I will give my mon in law this to try!

  16. Silky & luscious…what a rocking good flan!

  17. This looks amazing! Yummy!

  18. I love Thai iced tea- I drank it all the time while I was in Thailand. This looks so wonderful!

  19. This looks so good. Its inspiring because as delicious as plain flan is, it is really something that you can almost flavor with anything and have that smooth cool texture! Great job!

  20. I live in Thailand and I guess I should try this recipe out except I probably have enough condensed milk with my iced tea as it is!!! Looks great though and anyone who hasn’t tried the Thai iced tea or coffee you really need to come here to try it as for me it doesn’t matter how I make it for myself it never tastes quite as nice as when a local person makes it!

  21. Well this looks to be so much better than regular flan, and being that my hubby is Portugese, traditional flan is served at every gathering so I will give my mon in law this to try indeed.

  22. This looks really freaking good!

    But, I’m really afraid to even ask how many calories there are!?

  23. so how many calories does this thing have, looks extremely good but deadly!

  24. coffee and caramel a great combination.

  25. I guess I’ll try something like this too. thanks for this

  26. This looks absolutely gorgeous. I am salivating just reading it.

  27. I think this was a very interesting recipe, and I’m not a cook but my wife likes to dabble, so I will have her try this. I like the blend you have, and the way it’s prepared is certainly interesting to say the least. I know when I first saw it, it looked like a mexican dessert called Flan, but I will certainly give this one a try

  28. Looks delicious! Thanks for the recipe.

  29. coffee and caramel that is one great combination. Delicious!

  30. I’m making the vampire cupcakes for my daughter’s class. Excellent!!!

  31. Awesome recipe, thanks a lot!

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