Crema Catalana, also known as Saint Joseph crème is a traditional dessert from Catalonia, Spain but it is served all across Spain and it is typically prepared on March 19th, which is Saint Joseph’s day and it also happens to be Father’s day in that country.
The most similar dessert to Crema Catalana could be the famous Crème Brulée, which has a French origin. The main difference is that Crema Catalana is cooked on the stove top and thickened with eggs and corn starch, Crème Brulée on the other hand, is a heavy cream and eggs-based custard and it is baked au bain marie. Both of them have a “burned” sugar coating (brulée).
If we put Crème Pâtissière and Crème Brulée side by side, Crema Catalana would be in the middle as far as texture goes.
Its preparation is very simple and uncomplicated however, the tricky part lies in the sugar coating. In the past, a hot coil was used to “burn” the sugar top. Some recipes call for putting the dessert with the sugar under the broiler but that throws off the flavors, warms the cream and destroys the texture of the Crema so my recommendation is to use a propane blow torch. If you don’t have one, get one!
Once the custard thickens, it should simmer for a couple minutes on low heat to cook off the raw flavor of corn starch
The cinnamon, citrus peels and the brulée crust makes this dessert a keeper
- 500 ml Milk (divided)
- 100 grams Sugar plus 4 tablespoons
- 4 Yolks
- 20 grams Corn Starch
- 2 1" strips Lemon peel
- 2 1" strips Orange peel
- ½ Cinnamon stick
- Whisk together the yolks, corn starch and about 50 ml of milk in a small bowl
- Bring the rest of the milk, 100 grams of sugar, the orange and lemon peels and the cinnamon stick to a boil. Let cool down for 5 to 10 min
- Very slowly, whisk the milk and aromatics mixture into the yolk mixture so the yolks don't curdle
- Once both mixtures are combined, strain the cream base into a pot
- Without stopping whisking, simmer the cream at medium-low temperature until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon
- Once thickened, remove from heat and let cool to room temperature
- Transfer cream to four ramekins, cover each ramekin with plastic and reserve in the fridge for at least two hours or until ready to serve
- Right before serving, sprinkle one tablespoon of sugar over each ramekin and brulée