Homemade custards and creams are delicious, but there is a trick to making them. From custard to confectioner's cream, many of them are used in the preparation of numerous desserts and also constitute desserts in themselves. They have a common denominator—their extreme fragility. Therefore you should use top-quality ingredients for them and eat them within hours of their being made.
- Making a traditional egg custard requires a little patience and care. It acquires its characteristic consistency because heat causes the egg yolks to coagulate. Therefore, the more egg yolks added, the thicker the custard will be.
- The usual proportion is 8 egg yolks for every 4 cups milk and 1-1/4 cups sugar, but add more yolks for a thicker custard
- Rinse out the pan with cold water before pouring in the milk. This prevents the milk sticking to the base and sides of the pan
- It is critical to be thorough when beating the egg yolks with sugar. Put the sugar in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the eggs and beat quickly with a whisk until the mixture is smooth
- Remember to wash your hands after breaking the eggs to avoid bacterial contamination
- Be careful when heating the custard. It should thicken but not cook too much and should never boil, as it would spoil and lumps would form. However, if it doesn't cook enough, it will be too liquid. To find the ideal point, remove a little of the custard with a spatula and draw a line in it with your finger. The mark should be clear—if the sides rejoin, the custard is not yet cooked enough
- If the custard spoils, it may be possible to rescue it. Put a little cold water in a bowl and gradually pour in the custard, a little at a time, stirring vigorously.
- The base is the same as for custard, but it is usual to add flour or cornstarch to thicken it
- Add the cornstarch very carefully, beating with a whisk, but do not mix too much or the cream will harden
- To prevent a skin forming as the confectioner's cream cools, sprinkle confectioner's sugar over the top or cover it with plastic wrap.
Note: Crema Catalana is the best-known Spanish dessert and is said by some to be the predecessor of France's crème brûlée.
- 4 cups milk
- 2/3 cup superfine sugar
- Thinly pared zest of 1 lemon
- 8 egg yolks
- 1-1/2 to 2 tablespoons potato starch or cornstarch
Pour the milk into a pan, add 4 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon zest, and bring just to a boil. Meanwhile, beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of the remaining sugar and the potato starch. Gradually stir in the hot milk, then pour the custard into the pan. Lower the heat and cook, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Strain into a serving dish or individual dishes and let cool, then chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, sprinkle the remaining sugar on top and use a kitchen blow torch to caramelize it.
- 1080 Recipes
Recipes and Culinary Travels Along the Indian Ocean Spice Route
- by Simone Ortega and Inés Ortega
- Phaidon Press 2007
- 200 Color Illustrations/Photos
- $39.95 US; hardcover
- ISBN-10: 0714848360
- ISBN-13: 9780714848365
- Recipe reprinted by permission.
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This page created November 2007