I've had this Spanish dessert just once in a restaurant many years ago. I don't know why I never prepared it at home but then again I've never made its French version, Crème Brûlée, either. The Spanish sweet cream is lighter than its cousin as it has fewer egg yolks and uses milk instead of heavy cream.
Most of the recipes for Crema Catalana have a tablespoon of cornstarch for every 2 cups of milk and 3 egg yolks; sugar is usually ¾ cup. I reduced the sugar to ½ cup and cornstarch to ½ tablespoon. I also made another version without cornstarch. I loved both but the one with cornstarch has a smoother creamier consistency and it also takes a shorter time to cook.
Sweet Catalan Cream
500 ml whole milk
rind of 1 lemon
half a vanilla bean, split
3 large egg yolks
½ tablespoon cornstarch, optional
¾ cup sugar
- In a sauce pan, bring milk, vanilla bean, and lemon rind to a boil. Simmer for 3 minutes; remove rind and discard.; remove vanilla bean, wash, and dry for another use. Set aside heated milk
- In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks with cornstarch, if using, and ½ cup of sugar until mixture is creamy. Gradually pour into the sauce pan with milk, stirring until smooth. Slowly heat the mixture on low until it begins to thicken, taking care not to let it boil. Pour into 4 heatproof shallow dishes, allow to cool, and refrigerate for 2 hours.
- Right before serving, preheat broiler and sprinkle 1 tablespoon sugar evenly over each dish. Place dish under the broiler until sugar begins to caramelize. Let rest for a few minutes before serving.
to caramelize the sugar, I used a preheated round iron
which is part of a set of shallow dishes