Chef's Recipes

Mark Best: Sauternes custard with bitter caramel

Australian Gourmet Traveller dessert recipe for sauternes custard with bitter caramel by Mark Best.

By Mark Best
  • Serves 8
  • 15 mins preparation
  • 45 mins cooking plus standing, cooling, chilling
Mark Best: Sauternes custard with bitter caramel
Mark Best: Sauternes custard with bitter caramel

If you have a small butane burner or gas torch, you can lightly flame the surface of the custards before cooking to remove any bubbles. The custards can be made 1 day in advance. The caramel will keep for 1 to 2 weeks at room temperature.


  • 200 ml Sauternes (see note)
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 gm caster sugar
  • 350 ml pouring cream
Bitter caramel
  • 100 gm caster sugar


  • 1
    Preheat oven to 110C. Heat Sauternes in a small saucepan over low heat until it reaches 60C (4-5 minutes).
  • 2
    Meanwhile, beat yolks, eggs and sugar in an electric mixer until pale (3-4 minutes). Slowly add Sauternes and cream and stand for 5 minutes. Skim any bubbles from surface, then divide mixture among eight 100ml-capacity ramekins. Place ramekins in a heavy baking pan, fill pan with hot water from the tap until halfway up the outside of moulds. Cover lightly with foil and bake until just set (25-30 minutes). Remove from baking dish, cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until chilled and set (1-2 hours).
  • 3
    Meanwhile, for bitter caramel, place sugar in a small saucepan. Moisten with 20ml water and cook over medium-high heat, brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush until sugar caramelises (3-4 minutes). Swirl pan to ensure an even colour, then cook until wisps of smoke appear (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat, add 80ml water (be careful; caramel will spit), then cook over low heat until evenly melted (1-2 minutes). Cool and reserve until required. Makes about 200ml.
  • 4
    Pour 2 tsp caramel over each custard, serve immediately with extra caramel to the side.


Sauternes is a French dessert wine. If unavailable, substitute another sweet wine such as botrytis semillon.
This recipe is from the September 2009 issue of
Drink Suggestion: Amaro Nonino, an Italian liqueur infused with alpine herbs and tangerines, served chilled. Its flavour cuts through the creaminess of the custards. Drink suggestion by Max Allen

  • Author: Mark Best