Crema catalana is a decadent Spanish dessert much like crème brûlée – both emphasize the delectable contrast between silky custard and a crunchy caramelized sugar topping. Unlike crème brûlée, crema catalana sets in the refrigerator instead of the oven (a huge plus on a hot day!), and contains whole milk instead of heavy cream. An infusion of fresh lemon peel and cinnamon add layers of flavor, making this the perfect culmination to a paella dinner.
Crema Catalana Adapted from Cooking Light
2 cups whole milk
3 (3 x 1-inch) strips fresh lemon peel
1 cinnamon stick
3 large egg yolks
7 Tbsp sugar, divided
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place milk in a saucepan over medium-high heat; heat until tiny bubbles form around of the edge of the pan – do not boil. Remove from heat and add peel and cinnamon; cover and let stand for 30 minutes. Discard peel and cinnamon.
Whisk together egg yolks, 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly add half of warm milk to yolk mixture, then return yolk mixture to saucepan with remaining milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 10 to 12 minutes or until thickened.
Remove from heat and whisk in vanilla. Divide custard evenly between 6 (4-ounce) ramekins; press plastic wrap across surface of custard. Chill at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, remove plastic from custard. Sprinkle 1/2 tablespoon sugar over first ramekin, then use a blowtorch to heat the sugar. Hold blowtorch 6 inches away, rotating to melt and caramelize the sugar. Repeat with remaining ramekins. Serve immediately or within 1 hour.
Do ahead: make the custard up to 1 day before serving and chill overnight; add sugar topping and caramelize just before serving.
Yield – 6 servings
Calories – 142
Carbs – 21