Velvety and rich. The contrast between the cold smooth custard and the crisp caramelised sugar. In Portugal it is a very popular and traditional dessert. If anything gets my husband to beg, it is this custard. He loves it! You will find it equally in the humblest of homes or the fanciest of restaurants. It is known by many names around the world. Each culture has their own variation. We add lemon peel and the Spanish add orange peel. The French substitute part or all of the milk for cream and add vanilla. Each variation is delicious. I prefer the Portuguese version, although I too have substituted half the milk for cream and sometimes add vanilla. Some traditional Portuguese recipes call for a cinnamon stick, but I do not use it. Use your imagination, add softly poached raspberries or blueberries to the ramekins before adding custard. Try the other variations I have mentioned above. This is the mother recipe, but the possibilities are endless. After the custard has cooled, refridgerate a minimum of two hours. Just before serving, you add sugar to the tops and caramelise. You can set them under a hot oven grill or broiler, but it won't achieve the best results. A kitchen blow torch (like I have) or if your lucky enough to have the iron, will give you that desired, crisp caramel crust. I have wanted the iron for years and never remember to buy one while on holiday. This year will definitely be the one! Enjoy xoxo
Leite Creme Caseiro - Portuguese Crème Brûlée
Makes 6-8 ramekins approximately
800 ml. Whole milk
3 tbsp. Corn flour/starch
8 large Egg yolks
1 Peel of a lemon in large strips (outer yellow skin only not white pith)
6-8 tbsp. Caster sugar
For caramelising tops before serving. Count on a tablespoon for each ramekin.
1. In a small saucepan combine milk and lemon peel. Scald the milk, but do not let it come to the boil.
2. In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, sugar and corn flour.
3. Discard lemon peel and slowly add half of the hot milk in a steady stream to egg mixture while continuously beating eggs. This will slowly increase the temperature (temper)so they do not curdle.
4. Add the tempered eggs back into remaining milk in saucepan. On a low heat gently stir custard continuously, with a wooden spoon, until it thickens and bubbles gently.
Be patient, and whatever you do, don't turn the heat up.
Slow and steady is the secret.
5. Strain custard through a fine mesh sieve into ramekins.
Let cool to room temperature before refrigerating. Once cool,
cover with plastic clingfilm and let the plastic film touch the surface of the custard. This will prevent a skin from forming.
Refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours and up to 3 days.
6. Before serving, top each ramekin with a tablespoon of sugar, shaking around to cover entire surface of the custard. Using a kitchen blowtorch, caramelise the sugar to an amber golden brown. Alternatively, you can place ramekins under your oven's grill or broiler, but this will not give you the same effect.