Crema Catalana or Catalan Cream is the Catalan name and version of the often considered French dessert, crème brulée.
Despite the French claim, however, there are many regions that lay claim to the origin of this popular dessert. Catalonia, in the northeast corner of Spain (near the French border) is one of them.
Wherever crema Catalana originated, enjoy and let it dissolve in your mouth. It is a great dessert for spring and it is also called crema de Sant Josep, or St. Joseph’s cream, traditionally prepared on March 19th, St. Joseph’s Day, the Spanish equivalent of Father’s Day in the United States.
Do you prefer to follow a step-by-step recipe with photos? Then this how to make crema Catalana tutorial is for you.
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Before You Begin
- This crema Catalana recipe is a great Spanish dessert to make ahead of time, since it is very easy but does require between 2 and 3 hours of refrigeration before serving.
- You can make it the day before serving, and leave it in the refrigerator until you are ready to eat. For the caramelized sugar crust, simply heat the broiler, caramelize the sugar and serve.
Make the Crema
- In a large saucepan, beat together the egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar until the ingredients are thoroughly blended and the mixture turns frothy.
- Add the cinnamon stick and lemon zest and stir.
- Add the milk and cornstarch and slowly heat the mixture, stirring constantly, just until it begins to thicken.
- Remove the pot from the heat immediately. See the important Note, below.
- To cool, remove the cinnamon stick and ladle the milk mixture into 4 to 6 ramekins (depending on size). Allow them to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours.
- Before serving, heat the broiler. Take the ramekins with the crema Catalana out of the refrigerator and sprinkle the rest of the sugar over each ramekin.
- When the broiler is hot, place the ramekins under the broiler on the top shelf and allow the sugar to caramelize and bubble, turning golden brown. This may take 5 to 10 minutes or so, depending on your broiler. Keep a close eye on your crema Catalana so that it doesn't burn. Remove and serve immediately.
- If you'd like, you can serve the crema Catalana chilled, but some think it has more flavor when served warm from the broiler.
Note: As soon as the mixture thickens and you feel resistance while stirring, remove the pot from the heat or the mixture may curdle or separate. If this happens, the texture of the finished crema Catalana will be grainy instead of smooth and creamy as it should be.