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Crema catalana

Crema catalana ('Catalan cream'), crema cremada ('Burnt cream') or crema de Sant Josep, is a Catalan dish similar to crème brûlée. It is traditionally served on Saint Joseph's Day, March 19, although nowadays it is consumed at all times of year. The custard is flavored with lemon or orange zest, and cinnamon. The sugar in crema catalana is traditionally caramelized under an iron broiler, never with a flame. Crema catalana has inspired some other Catalan dishes, including Torró de crema (consumed during Christmas time) and crema catalana liqueur (source: Wikipedia).
Total time:2 hours, 25 minutes
Prep time:15 minutes
Cook time:10 minutes

Crema catalana ingredients:

milk2 cups0.8 pints0.5 l
cinnamon stick111
lemon/orange (only the zest is used)111
egg yolks444
sugar3/4 cup5 oz140 gr
cornstarch1 tbsp1 tbsp1 tbsp
sugar6 tsp6 tsp30 gr

Preparation of crema catalana:

  • Put the milk in a saucepan with the cinnamon, lemon zest (or orange zest) and salt, bring to the boil over low heat
  • Remove from the heat and strain after 5 minutes
  • In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the (strained) cornstarch and the first mentioned amount of sugar, until the mixture is creamy
  • Add the flavored milk bit by bit, whisking until evenly colored
  • Slowly heat the mixture until it begins to thicken, take care that the mixture does not boil
  • Fill 4 ramekins evenly with the cream
  • Cool to room temperature, cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours
  • Just before serving, preheat the broiler
  • Uncover the ramekins and soak up any condensation with paper toweling
  • Sprinkle the last-mentioned amount of sugar evenly on each ramekin and caramelize by placing under the broiler briefly until the sugar melts and turns brown
  • Serve immediately, otherwise the caramelized crust will soften


  • This recipe can be made in advance: leave the cream in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. Then, caramelize the sugar and serve.
  • Add freshly grated nutmeg (1/4 tsp) for a more spicy crema catalana.
  • Click here for tips and techniques for preparing crème catalan.
  • Click here to know more about the equipment used.
  • In the Crème brûlée shop you kan buy the utensils and some of the ingredients needed.

Crema Catalana
Creme Catalan
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