Crema Catalana is a Spanish dessert from the region of Catalonia. It is one of Europe’s oldest desserts on record. The very first recipe was mentioned in medieval Catalan cookbook published in 1324. The French crème brûlée appears in 1740. Crème Catalane and crème brûlée belong to the custard family. Both are topped with caramelized sugar. However, there are some key differences. Crème brûlée is a cream based dessert that is flavored with vanilla bean, and baked in water bath in the oven. While crema Catalana is whole milk based, thickened with a some starch, and flavored with citrus peel (lemon and orange) and cinnamon. Lastly, crema Catalana does not need to bake in the oven in a bain-marie as it is cooked on the stovetop just like a crème patissière (Pastry cream). Pretty much any ramekins, glasses or dishes would work for crema Catalana. Though, for awesome and consistent results, use porcelaine dishes or the traditional Catalan clay dish 5 1/4'' x 1'' (13.33 x 2.5cm). Capacity 6 oz/180g.
Have ramekins ready on tray first. Bring to a boil the milk with cream, a third of the sugar, zests, and spices. Turn the heat off, and let milk to infuse for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together sugar with cornstarch, and egg yolks. Do not overwork. Reheat milk, and sieve. Temper yolk mixture with one-third of hot milk. Add remaining milk and transfer mixture back to the saucepan. Bring custard to a boil whisking constantly on medium heat, and add Grand Marnier. Fill up ramekins immediately. Cover custard with plastic wrap in direct contact. Leave out to cool and place in the refrigerator overnight to set completely, or store for for up to 3 days. Do not freeze. When ready to serve, top with a couple of teaspoons / 15g fine sugar, and blow torch until you reach caramelization. Garnish with poached lemon, and orange strips, star anise, cinnamon stick... Enjoy!