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Catalan Cream


Yields enough to fill six 4-inch cazuelas, which are included as part of our Crema Catalana Set.

This is the Spanish classic dessert, sister to crème brulée and cousin to vanilla pudding, but standing apart from both due to its lemon and cinnamon infused custard. Feel free to omit one or both flavorings if you want. If you are using an old-fashioned iron to caramelize the sugar, make sure it gets good and hot before sizzling, and know that each one comes out a little different – part of the excitement and charm! And enjoy our how-to-video on caramelizing.

  • 4 cups milk
  • 2-inch strip lemon peel
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 8 egg yolks
  • 2 cups sugar, plus more for toppings
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/8 tsp salt

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, heat 3 cups of the milk with the lemon peel and cinnamon stick until the milk is sizzling around the edges of the pan. Don’t let it boil. Reduce the heat to very low while you prepare the egg yolks.

In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, the remaining 1 cup of milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk until well combined. Slowly pour the hot infused milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to temper the yolks. When all the milk is added, return the entire mixture back to the saucepan. Set over medium low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the custard starts to thicken, about 8 to 10 minutes. If it’s taking too long, increase the heat to medium, but be sure to whisk constantly and thoroughly because once the custard starts to thicken, it goes quickly. Stay close by and take it off the heat when it’s as thick as a soft pudding. Immediately pour the mixture through a sieve into six cazuelas or other shallow wide dishes. Lay plastic wrap on top and refrigerate until fully chilled, at least 2 hours. The custards can hold in the fridge for 24 hours.

When ready to serve, prepare the caramelizating iron by heating it up directly over or in a gas flame until it is searing hot, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the plastic wrap from a custard and sprinkle evenly with about 2 teaspoons of sugar. Set the hot iron directly on the sugar with light pressure – there should be a good deal of steam. When the sizzling slows, remove the iron. Repeat with the remaining custards, rinsing and heating the iron between each one. Serve right away.