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Crema Catalana Recipe

I’m not going to wade into the debate over whether the French invented crème brûlée first or the Catalonians invented crema Catalana first. Some subjects are simply too hot to touch. Suffice to say that the techniques for preparing them are identical, though the flavors and textures are not. Crema Catalana, in addition to vanilla, has citrus peel and cinnamon in it, which give it a nice liveliness. It’s not the showpiece for cream that crème brûlée is, but then it’s made with milk anyway. The extra eggs yolks compensate for the lost fat, in addition to giving this custard a somewhat looser texture.

Stirred up — versus being allowed to set in ramekins — crema Catalana makes a phenomenal filling. If you’re planning on using it for that purpose, you can simply do the final heating of the custard mixture in a saucepan. It’s a rough-and-ready treatment for a delicate custard, but it works very well for the purpose. If you’re serving your crema as a dessert, you can heat the custards gently in a water bath in the oven, which will ensure the very silkiest result. You’ll need: