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Crema catalana

Crema catalana
Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

Somewhere between eating our way through Barcelona and reservations at El Bulli, my friend Claudine and I ended up in the kitchen of an early 18th century casa de poble, "or house in the town," chopping wild asparagus and grilling ... Read more

Total time: 45 minutes, plus several hours chilling time | Serves 6
  • 4 cups milk
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon
  • zest of 1/2 lemon in large strips
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 7 egg yolks

Step 1In a medium saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat with the cinnamon and lemon zest until it starts to simmer. Remove from the heat and set the pan aside to infuse for 30 minutes.

Step 2Mix the cornstarch and half-cup sugar in a separate bowl. Set aside.

Step 3In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks.

Step 4Return the saucepan to the stove top and, over medium heat, bring the milk mixture back to a simmer. When the milk is hot, add it little by little to the egg yolks, then return the mixture to the heat, and stir in the sugar blend.

Step 5Place on medium heat until the mixture is thickened, about 3 minutes.

Step 6Remove the zest and cinnamon, and pour the mixture into cazuelas or small gratin dishes, about two-thirds cup per portion. Chill thoroughly until set.

Step 7When ready to serve, sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar in an even layer over the crema and torch until burnt, or place the cazuelas on a sheet tray under the broiler until the sugar starts to turn dark brown, about 8 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Note: From Katy Ross and Martha Kroncke of Las Nenas, who make their version in small cazuelas, earthenware baking dishes. You can also use gratin dishes or ramekins that hold at least two-thirds of a cup.


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