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Catalan Custard

06 June 2014 / 09:06:38  GRReporter
1378 reads

Danielle Lachana

 

Arguably Europe's oldest dessert from the region of Catalonia in North-East Spain (it is present in Medieval cookbooks) this dessert is often confused with the French, more ubiquitous,  Crème Brulée. There are however some differences, not only as regards the flavouring - the Spanish version includes lemon and/or orange peel and cinnamon, whereas the French uses vanilla; the French dessert also uses cream, whereas  the Spanish one generally only milk. Also the cooking method is different - the Spanish version uses cornflour (cornstarch) and sets upon chilling, whereas the French one is cooked in the oven - generally in a bain-marie (water bath). Both are equally tasty but with summer just around the corner, the Spanish version is somewhat lighter...

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RECIPE

(Serves 6)

 

METHOD

Put  the milk (reserving about 200 ml in which to dissolve the cornflour) in a heavy-based saucepan together with the lemon and/or orange zest, and cinnamon stick, and over a medium heat bring just to boiling point. Remove and leave to infuse until slightly cooled (about 15 minutes). Strain the milk into a bowl through a fine sieve. Discard the zest and cinnamon.

Dissolve the cornflour in the reserved milk and put in a bowl with the egg yolks and sugar. Mix until well combined. Pour the cooled, strained milk, onto this mixture, stirring quickly and continuously with a wooden spoon or hand mixer, to avoid the formation of lumps.

Pour into a pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, for about 10 minutes until thickened. The mixture is ready when it coats the back of the spoon.

Pour the cream into 6 ramekins or small bowls and cover the surface with cling film (plastic wrap) or a disc of greaseproof paper to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool before transferring to the fridge.

Just before serving, remove the cling  film or paper and sprinkle the top of each dessert with the sugar. Either caramelize with a blowtorch or place under a hot grill until the sugar turns dark brown and caramelizes. Be careful as it can burn very quickly.

Chill in the fridge before serving. Ideally the caramel should harden upon cooling -  you simply tap it with a spoon to break it before eating. The contrast between the hard crisp caramel and the soft velvety cream below is what really makes this dessert!

Enjoy!

Tags: Crema Catalana Catalan custard Mediterranean recipes Desserts Cream
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