The Spanish tend to save really fancy desserts for special occasions but that’s not to say they don’t like to finish a meal with something sweet. Often a dessert will consist of some simply prepared fruit which is light and refreshing, but dairy desserts are popular too. You can also give your usual desserts a Spanish twist by adding some authentic Spanish ingredients so make sure you have fresh oranges, some sweet sherry and a some cinnamon at hand.
This rich dessert is also known as “crema de Sant Josep” and is served on Saint Josep’s Day on March 19th, although it is a very popular dessert at any time. It’s essentially the Spanish version of what the French call “creme brulee” though it is not cooked in a bain marie like creme brulee.
To make it you’ll need
6 egg yolks
3/4 liter milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 piece of lemon peel
3 tbsp corn flour
First, beat the egg yolks until light then whisk in 150g of the sugar.
In a saucepan with the cinnamon and lemon peel , bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and strain.
Whisk the milk with the egg mixture you must do it this way to prevent the eggs from scrambling.
Dissolve the cornflour with a little milk and whisk this into the mixture. Over a low heat, cook the mixture, stirring constantly until it begins to boil. Don’t leave this unattended you need to keep stirring.
Pour the custard into ramekins or small bowls and allow to cool before chilling in the refrigerator. Before serving sprinkle a little sugar on top and caramelize it by placing under a hot grill briefly until the sugar melts and turns brown or use a chefs torch for the quickest results.
A variation on this is to make “crema Catalana ice cream”; simply add cinnamon and lemon zest to your mixture before freezing it. When you serve it pour over a caramel sauce or for the adults a good glug of a darker sweet sherry such as an amontillado.
Another popular Spanish dairy dessert is “natillas”; you will see this one the menu in most restaurants but its often eaten at home too.
To make this you’ll need
8 egg yolks
1 liter milk
1 dessert spoon cornflour
1 stick cinnamon
200 grams Sugar
Put most of the milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon and heat gently (reserve a small cup of the cold milk first. Now beat the sugar and egg yolks. Dissolve the cornflour in the milk you put aside and add this to the sugar and yolks mixture.
When the mil is just boiling, remove the cinnamon stick and add the milk, eggs, cornflour and sugar mixture. Keep stirring over a gentle heat until the custard starts to thicken but be sure not to let it boil.
Pour the custard into individual ramekins or dishes and sprinkle over some ground cinnamon. Serve cold.
If all this is a little rich for your tastes then you might prefer a fruit based dessert. This one uses oranges for a typically Spanish flavor.
Peel four oranges and cut into thin slices. Don’t discard the peel. Squeeze the juice from another orange.
Now place the orange peel, a couple of cloves and a cinnamon stick in a saucepan with the orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of sugar. Heat this slowly then remove the peel and spices and add one glass of red wine and continue to heat through for about five minutes.
In a serving dish, spread out the slices of orange and pour over the liquid. Chill before serving; this dessert looks attractive and can be served as it is but you could also think about serving it with a small scoop of ice cream or some fresh cream.
Three desserts so simple there’s no excuse not to make them!