This is probably the most popular dessert in all of Spain. It resembles the French Creme Brulee. Either one is delicious, but the Spanish version is a little less work.
Serve this as is, or make the optional crunchy sugar topping. Serve it alone or with small chunks or slices of the freshest fruit you can find.
Prepare in four ramekins
- 2 cups half-and-half
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Peel of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 4 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup sugar plus 1/2 cup for the topping, if desired
In a small heavy saucepan mix 1 3/4 cups of the half-and-half, the cinnamon, vanilla and lemon peel.
Mix remaining 1/4 cup of half-and-half with the cornstarch, blending well. Set aside.
Place the saucepan on medium heat and bring the mixture just to a boil. Immediately remove from the heat. Remove the cinnamon stick and the lemon peel.
Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and mix them with 1/4 cup sugar until they are light and lemon-colored. Slowly whisk 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the bowl to temper the eggs. Then whisk this egg mixture into the contents of the saucepan along with the cornstarch mixture.
Place the pan back on low heat and, stirring constantly, cook about 5 minutes or until the mixture starts to thicken and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Allow to cool slightly, and then evenly divide the contents between four Le Creuset ramekins. Let cool. Refrigerate until serving time.
If you wish to make a crunchy sugar surface for the custards, line a cookie sheet with foil and butter well. Trace four circles on the sheet the same diameter as the ramekins. Sprinkle a quarter of the remaining 1/2 cup sugar evenly inside each circle.
Place the sheet under the broiler for 4 – 5 minutes until the sugar is a deep amber color. Allow the sugar to cool, then carefully peel it from the foil and set a circle on each ramekin for serving.