This venerable confection is Europe’s oldest, but it’s easy to make
Crema Catalana often is confused with the French crème brûlée. Several things differentiate the two. First, crema Catalana is made from whole milk, not cream. It features a distinctive Moorish influence in its spicing, which includes citrus peel and cinnamon. Finally, it’s cooked on the stovetop, rather than in the oven in a water bath.
Crema Catalana is one of Europe’s oldest desserts, appearing in several medieval Catalan recipe books. The dessert was created by the Jewish inhabitants of Catalonia and its popularity quickly spread to the rest of Spain, according to the Confectionery Guild of Barcelona.
The Catalan Institute of Cooking declared it the national dessert of Catalana. It’s an easy dessert to prepare and serve and the ingredients are likely to be in your home already.
2½ cups whole milk
1 cinnamon stick
Lemon and orange peel, about ½ of each fruit, making sure all pith is removed
5 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
Extra sugar for caramelizing
Put milk, citrus peels and cinnamon stick in a small sauce pan. Slowly bring to a boil.
Dissolve the cornstarch in a splash of water and set aside.
While the milk heats, beat eggs and sugar until pale yellow. Beat in the cornstarch and a spoonful of hot milk.
Remove the peels and cinnamon and lower the heat.
Temper the eggs and add back into milk, stirring constantly to prevent eggs from scrambling.
Stir over low heat until thickened.
Remove from heat, pour into ramekins. Allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle sugar on top and caramelize with a kitchen torch.