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A ramekin cooks and serves food in a single-serving, heatproof, cylindrical dish. A ramekin is made of glass, porcelain, or ceramic commonly in a round shape with an exterior ridged surface. Soufflés, mousses, custards, puddings, and casseroles in individual sizes are ideal meals and desserts to cook or bake in a ramekin. Potent foods in small amounts, like dips, can also be served in these miniature decorative dishes.
Since ramekins are designed to hold a serving for just one person, they are frequently sold in sets of four, six, or eight. Traditional ramekins are solid white, round, with a fluted texture covering the outside, and a small lip. However, there are many decorative ramekins that come in shapes of a heart, oval, or rounded square. They come in countless colors and finishes, with transparent, milky red, or forest green crackle finish ramekins. Some have imprinted designs for special occasions, like a wreath, leaf, or blossom.
Ramekin might come from a Dutch word for "toast" or a German word for "little cream." Fluffy, airy dishes that contain a lot of eggs or egg-whites benefit from being cooked in a ramekin because the heat can be distributed evenly, resulting in a uniform texture. The straight sides allow foods that rise to cling to them, giving height to puffy desserts like mousse or creme brulee. Some recipes call for a set of ramekins to be placed in a pan of hot water, called a bath, and then baked in the oven, to protect food from scorching.
Ramekins act as attractive serving dishes as well. They beautify the presentation of hummus, pesto, cashews, mayonnaise, olive tapenade, or mushroom pate. Sometimes it's prettier to present desserts outside of the ramekin. The dish's straight sides make it easy to unmold desserts, like an upside-down pineapple cake, by inverting them onto a plate. Flan, a Mexican dessert, first requires you to coat the inside of the ramekin with caramel, then pour in the flan and bake until firm. Flan can also be upended, so your guests can see the swirling glaze of the caramel.