Crema Catalana

I fell in love with crema catalanas in Spain. It’s quite similar to a creme brûlée, which is the French version, pretty sure the Spanish and the French are still arguing about who created it first.

I find the crema catalanas have a strong citrus flavour, which is quite different.

I had to make these crema catalanas a couple of times to get the consistency right! I am pleased to announce that I have successfully figured it out, and can finally share the recipe with you 🙂 it is a surprisingly easy recipe, once you figure out the quantities and ratios. You do have to be patient when you are mixing it on the stove, because for a long time it just looks like it will never come together, and then BANG, it does.

I had also tried to use caster sugar to caramelize the top, however, it just dissolved into the crema catalana before I could successfully blow-torch it. Ben suggested that I make a caramel first, blitz it up into a fine powder and then blow-torch it. It worked – those engineers are just full of great ideas 🙂

Top tip: buy a massive blow torch from Bunnings (or your local hardware store) – we bought ours for $25. Those piddly ones from the cooking/baking stores are expensive, inefficient and useless.

Serves: 8 people

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Chill overnight

Ingredients:

3 1/2 tablespoons of cornflour

4 cups (1 litre) of whole milk

Peel from a lemon (note: not the zest, but rather big slices of the peel)

Peel from an orange (note: not the zest, but rather big slices of the peel)

1 cinnamon stick

8 large egg yolks

4/5 cup caster sugar (if you can’t find superfine, don’t worry, it’ll just be a bit more grainy)

Additional sugar to make a caramel

Fresh fruit (like figs, raspberries or strawberries) to top

Instructions:

1. Put the milk on the stove in a small saucepan, along with the citrus peels and the cinnamon stick. Slowly bring to a boil.

2. Dissolve the cornstarch in a splash of water and set aside.

3. While the milk is slowly heating, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, until the mixture turns pale yellow. Beat in the dissolved cornflour and a spoonful of the hot milk.

4. Remove the citrus peels and cinnamon stick from the hot milk, and lower the heat.

5. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture to the milk, making sure to keep stirring so that the eggs don’t scramble!

6. Stir constantly over a low heat, until the mixture has thickened. You’ll be stirring for a long while, so persevere!

7. Remove from the heat and pour the mixture into traditional clay dishes or ramekins.

8. Allow the custard to cool, and then cover in plastic wrap and chill the crema catalanas for about four hours (preferably overnight).

9. Prepare a baking tray with some baking paper on it. In a small saucepan, prepare a dry caramel. Toss some caster sugar in there on a medium-high heat and WATCH it. When the sugar dissolves and turns a beautiful amber colour, take it off the heat, and pour it onto the baking paper. Let it cool for a little bit, then pop it into the fridge.

10. The next day, blitz up your caramel into a fine powdered sugar. Then sprinkle a thin layer of this caramelised sugar on top of each ramekin. Spread the sugar out by tilting the ramekins in all directions. Caramelize with a large kitchen blowtorch.

11. Top with fresh fruit (optional) and enjoy!

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