Friday, September 23, 2011

Crema Catalana or Crème brûlée? You Decide.

For my cultures of Spain and Latin America class (actually just Spain) we were given project in which we had to make a traditional Spanish food and present it to the class. I decided to make crema catalana because it was literally the only good Spanish food on the list (aaand I really wanted an excuse to use my torch.)

According to my research, there has been a decades old debate about whether the dessert originated in Spain or in France. The Spanish Crema Catalana and the French Crème brûlée are not exactly the same though. Traditionally, crema catalana has a little less cream or fat (which, in my opinion means not as good), but they are basically identical.

I used a recipe from a blog called Laylita's Kitchen. Her directions where perfect and really easy to follow so I don't want to waste your time pretending like I know what i'm talking about. So just follow the link! > The Link

2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
1 vanilla bean
4 strips orange peel (can also use lemon)
peel of a lemon
8 egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ cup turbinado or raw sugar (sugar in the raw)
3 tbs corn starch

(to make 12, I actually doubled this recipe! so 16 egg yolks YIKES! still don't know what to do with all those egg whites....) 
Here are pictures of the process:

This is what happens when you put too much sugar on top of the custard. You need a thick enough layer for the sugar to actually make a nice shell, but there shouldn't be too much to the point where you cant see the custard beneath in un-torched sugar (does that make sense)

gross huh? this is what your crema catalana will look like if you caramelize the sugar too far in advance. The dessert should only be torched right before it is served. Although this still tasted good (according to the brave souls in our class that were willing to try it) It looks nasty and ultimately inedible. At least I didn't do all 12!


  1. Hi Suzie, note that part of today's South East France was part of the Crown of Aragon empire for several centuries ( where Catalonia was by far the greater influencer, so it's quite plausible that, among the commerce and other cultural exchanges (ie. festivals, markets...) within the different territories of this confederation, this recipe had suffered adaptations to local techniques. Thus, knowing that they were grouped under the same crown so to speak makes it easy to understand why they're so similar -albeit different at the same time :)

  2. Enric, very good point I recently took a cooking class in Barcelona and they mentioned that as well. :-)

    Lovely recipe, thanks Suzie!