About this recipe:An adapation of my mother-in-law's fabulous no-cream creme caramel. No need to heat the milk (and so no risk of curdling or scrambled egg) - just mix and pour it straight in. Doesn't get any easier than this.
Melt 100g caster sugar on a medium heat in a 2 litre oven-proof saucepan until liquid and golden-coloured. Shake a little to ensure it melts evenly and doesn't catch and burn. Take off the heat. Carefully tilt the pan to coat the bottom and sides (about half-way up the sides) evenly with the melted sugar. Leave to cool and harden.
Whisk the remaining ingredients in a bowl until they are well mixed, there are no streaks of egg, and the sugar (or xylitol) has dissolved.
Place a deep dish, larger than your sugared pan, into the oven and pour in enough hot water so that when you put your pan into it, the water will reach up to between half and 3/4 of the way up on the outside.
By now, the cooling sugar should start to make 'popping' noises as it starts to crack in the pan. When the oven is preheated, pour in the milk, eggs, sugar and vanilla mix into the pot. Place the pan inside your water-filled dish in the oven and top up the water if necessary.
Bake for 50 minutes, topping up the water if necessary.
You will be able to tell if it's ready when wiggling the pan slightly produces a wobble rather than a slosh. Remove from the oven, cool and then refrigerate until completely chilled.
Turn out into a slightly larger and deeper dish, or simply serve from the pan. If turning out, drizzling some cream on the top can look very pretty.
For a more exotic and aromatic version, try replacing the vanilla for cardamom - simply crush the black seeds of 2 to 3 cardamom pods into a fine powder and add instead of the vanilla.