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Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana

  • Author: Isabelle Boucher
  • Prep Time: 2.5 hours
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 9 minute
  • Yield: 4 1x


Spain's answer to creme brulee, Crema Catalana has a subtly sweet custard scented with citrus and cinnamon under a crunchy layer of caramelized sugar.


  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon, cut into wide strips
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp sweet sherry (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Topping:
  • 2 tbsp sugar


  1. In a small saucepan, combine the milk, cream, lemon and orange zests, and cinnamon sticks. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then remove from heat and set aside to infuse, covered, for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300F and boil a kettleful of water.
  3. Strain the infused milk, and discard the solids. Pour the milk back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer once more over medium heat.
  4. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks, sugar, sherry (if using) and vanilla extract. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture, whisking briskly as you go to keep the eggs from curdling.
  5. Set four one-cup ovenproof ramekins into a deep baking dish. Evenly distribute custard between the ramekins. Place dish in preheated oven, then carefully fill with boiling water until it comes halfway up the sides of ramekins, being careful not to get any water into the custards.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, until custard is barely set around the edges and a little wobbly in the middle.
  7. Remove ramekins from the baking dish, cool for a few minutes, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely, about 2 hours.
  8. Before serving, sprinkle 1/2 tbsp sugar onto each ramekin. Using a small blowtorch held about 2" away from the surface of the dish, work the flame over the sugar to caramelise, making sure not to linger too long over a single spot to ensure a nice even caramelization. (Or if you don't have a torch, you can also place the sugar-topped custards under a hot broiler for 30-45 seconds, or as long as it takes for the sugar to melt into a thin layer of golden-brown caramel)
  9. Serve right away, accompanied by a dramatic flourish of the hands and your best attempt at a Spanish-style rolled "rrrrrr".
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Spanish