This typical Catalan dessert is a cream made with an egg yolk base covered with a thin layer of caramelized sugar on top, which gives the perfect touch to the contrast between the texture of the cream and the hard candy surface above. In an article in this blog we already taught you how to prepare a delicious “Catalan cream” at home with which to surprise your friends or family, and today we want to talk about this traditional dessert that you will see in all restaurant menus at Catalonia. All ShBarcelona employees, both local and foreign, love this Catalan “crème brulée” and we recommend you do not leave Barcelona without trying it.
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A little bit of history
The Catalan cream is also known by the name of “burnt cream” or simply “cream” in Catalonia, and is traditionally a dessert that is used to eat the day of St. Joseph, which is March the 19th (Father’s Day). It is widely documented in the Catalan literature and cookbooks of the fourteenth and sixteenth century, so it is considered one of the oldest desserts in Europe, emerging as the evolution of traditional cream. During the twentieth century, the Catalan cream is present in works of Josep Pla and the poet Miquel Martí i Pol. Because of the tools and ingredients that were necessary to prepare this dessert (torch to burn the sugar on top of cream, egg yolks, cornmeal…), it’s used to be something only ate at restaurants. Now, with the development of the accessories in the kitchens of houses and the incorporation of certain ingredients for sale in supermarkets, people prepare this dish at home.
The basic ingredients of the Catalan cream are egg yolks, sugar, corn flour (can also be wheat) and milk previously flavored with cinnamon and lemon peel to give the peculiar flavor to this delicious dessert. These ingredients are cooked in a small saucepan without boiling until it thickens. It is then left in the fridge to cool up. This type of cream, at this point, can be used to add in various desserts like cakes, bread rolls, buns, croissants, etc., but to make the Catalan cream, it is usually placed in a clay casserole and the surface is previously sprinkled with sugar and burnt with a torch or a hot iron object.
This dessert can be served as ice cream, even as nougat at Christmas, also people have it as a liquor. If you go to any bar or traditional restaurant in one of the neighborhoods of Barcelona you can taste the Catalan cream in some of its forms, but we recommend that go eat it at Granja Viader (4-6 Xuclà Street). In this same place the Catalan chocolate drink called Cacaolat was invented. Highly recommended!
Related article: Traditional Catalan recipe: Mel i mató