Saturday, August 11, 2012

Catalan Menu: Part II, Crema Catalana

In my previous post, Catalan menu part I, I shared with you some of the easy and delicious dishes common throughout the Catalonia region and its darling city Barcelona. You all know I have a sweet tooth, so you didn't think I visited Barcelona without eating a dessert or two. If there's one dessert you have to try while in Barcelona, that dessert would have to be Crema Catalana, or Catalan cream.    

Catalan cream is similar to the french Creme brulee, but with some some basic differences. The French version is made with heavy cream and egg yolks while the Spanish or Catalan version is made with milk, egg yolks and corn flour as a thickening agent. The creme brulee is thickened through a bain Marie (a double boiler).

From a historical point of view, this dessert is considered as one of the oldest cream recipes in Europe as it was featured many times in medieval Catalan recipes books. The dessert apparently has some Jewish and Moorish influences as it is believed that it was within the Jewish tradition to thicken milk with eggs and the Moors added their aromatic flavors such cinnamon and lemon peel to it. 
In addition, this creamy dessert used to be served on the 19th of March, Saint Joseph's day, and that´s why it´s also called crema de Sant Josep. but now you can find it all year around!

Just few ingredientes, easy steps and you will get an amazing and refreshing dessert suitable for a distinguished end to a traditional and delicious Catalan meal or to enjoy in a beautiful summer evening or night!

For 2 persons you need:
  • 250 ml of milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 g of corn flour
  • 30 g of sugar
  • Flavoring aromas:  traditionally you need lemon peel and a cinnamon stick. However I added some additional flavorings: vanilla pod and lavender. You might be surprised by the use of lavender, however this flower adds an aromatic undertone that lifts the flavor of the cream to a new height.  
In a sauce pan, combine the milk and the flavoring aromas and let it simmer for few minutes.
While the milk is simmiring, add the sugar to the egg yolks, whisk throughly for about 2 or 3 minutes until the eggs are well aerated and pale in color .
Now add the corn flour and mix untill it´s well combined Strain the milk, and slowly start adding it to the egg mixture.

Bring back the mixture into the saucepan, put it on a low heat and start whisking slowly until the mixture start to thicken which will take a few minutes.
The cream now is ready to be poured into recipients. You can use clay dishes for an authentic feel.
Level the cream so you get an even surface, leave it to cool.
Then put in the fridge for a few hours.
When cream is cold, and ready to be served sprinkle sugar on top and with a blowtorch caramelize it.

When you caramelize the sugar, leave it to cool for few minutes.
The cream is ready to be served, decorated as you wish and enjoy a creamy, smooth and fragrant dessert!

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