Serves 6. Vegetarian. Gluten Free.
Crema Catalana, is a typical custard dessert from Catalonia, often confused with the French crème brûlée because they look very similar. However, while crème brûlée is more popular, crema Catalana is more ancient. We can find the first written reference to this recipe on the book Llibre de Sent Soví, a medieval cookbook with more than 200 recipes written in 1324. Today this dessert is still served all across Spain. The recipe is really fast and easy, and there is no baking involved. You will have an impressing dessert even if you don´t know how to switch on the oven. You can find this recipe and much more in the book Spain: the cookbook.
- 1l (1 3/4 pints) of milk
- 130g caster sugar
- Thinly pared rind of 1 lemon
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons cornflour or potato flour
Put the milk into a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon rind, and bring just to the boil.
Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and the cornflour.
Gradually stir in the hot milk then pour the custard into the pan. Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until thickened.
Strain into a serving dish or individual dishes and leave to cool, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize it. If you don´t have a blow torch, you can use the traditional sugar-burner, or just put the dishes into the oven and grill them. The result of grilling the sugar is not the same but can be good enough if you are not a regular blow torch user and you prefer not to invest in getting one.
I made the recipe at home, and even made a video – unfortunately, the video did not result very nice and now I feel embarrassed to upload it. It took me less than 20 minutes and the result was just great. It was pretty easy and I did not suffer any incident (the milk did not boil over the pan, neither got stuck at the bottom), but I forgot to strain it while pouring the custard on the dishes and as a result, it got a slightly grainy texture. Also, depending on how thick is the sugar coat before burning it you will get a crunchy, crystalised layer of caramel (adding a lot of sugar), or a light melting caramel layer if you put less sugar on top. The traditional way is getting a crystalised coating, but both ways are nice.
If you try it, I would love to know how did it go!