Burnt cream

Yield: 8 servings

Measure Ingredient
1¼ cup Milk
2⅛ cup Cream
Small pieces cinnamon stick
Few strips lemon peel
4 larges Egg yolks
¾ cup Castor sugar
1 tablespoon Cornflour

(Crema Catalina)

Rich and seductive, Crema Catalina, or Burnt Cream, flavoured with cinnamon and a hint of lemon, is served in practically every restaurant in the Catalan region. Sets of 6-8 shallow, terra cotta dishes to make the dessert in, are sold everywhere, along with a branding iron, which just fits inside the surface of the dish. The iron is heated over gas until very hot then plunged on to the sugared surface of the custard it caramelizes the thin layer of sugar instantly. It is difficult to obtain the same result under a hot grill. The heat is not hot enough to do the job quickly, and the custard heats up and can separate as a result. The best result, failing a branding iron, is to use a mini blowtorch, similar to the type used for paint stripping.

I have added a tablespoon of cornflour to the mixture to help thicken the custard, and to prevent curdling should the custard boil (without it the eggs will coagulate at boiling point). If you are a confident custard maker, you can omit it. extra sugar for sprinkling

Put the milk and cream, cinnamon stick and lemon in a saucepan and set over a medium heat. Bring just to boiling point, remove from the heat, cover with a lid and leave to infuse for 20 minutes.

Beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour with an electric mixer until pale and well blended, then pour on the strained milk and cream, stirring. Set the pan on a low to medium heat and stir continuously until the custard thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

Pour into 8-10 small ramekins, cool, then refrigerate. When set (the custards can be prepared 12 hours ahead up to this point) sprinkle the surfaces with a light dusting of castor sugar. Flash quickly under a very hot grill, as close to the source of heat as you can get, or caramelise the tops of the puds with a blow torch. Refrigerate several hours before serving (the caramelised topping should be melting into the custard). Serves 8-10.

Source: Cuisine Jan '95

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