How to make Crema Catalana

During an unforgettable odyssey through the cobblestoned streets and bustling markets of Catalonia, I had the pleasure of indulging in one of the region’s most celebrated desserts: Crema Catalana. This custard delight, a stunning marriage of egg yolks, fragrant cinnamon, and sweet figs, captivated my senses and left me yearning for more. The creamy richness of the egg yolks, infused with the aromatic warmth of cinnamon and the natural sweetness of figs, creates a dessert that is indulgent yet comfortingly familiar. Enthralled by its sublime flavors and eager to recreate the magic at home, I embarked on a culinary journey to master Crema Catalana. Through dedication, the meticulous selection of ingredients, and a sprinkle of culinary intuition, I have succeeded in bringing this Catalan treasure to life in my own kitchen. It is with great enthusiasm and a touch of pride that I now offer you this recipe, inviting you to experience the allure of Catalan cuisine through the exquisite taste of Crema Catalana.

Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana is a quintessential Catalan dessert known for its rich, creamy base and caramelized sugar topping, creating a delightful contrast of textures. First experienced during a captivating journey through Catalonia, this dessert stood out for its combination of simple yet elegant flavors—egg yolks for richness, cinnamon for warmth, and the sweetness of figs, all contributing to its unique taste profile. The process of mastering Crema Catalana at home involved careful selection of ingredients and honing the technique to achieve the perfect balance between the creaminess of the custard and the crispness of the burnt sugar crust. This journey not only resulted in the creation of an authentic dish but also opened up an avenue to share a beloved piece of Catalan culinary tradition. Eager to bring this experience to others, I now present this recipe, inviting you to explore the flavors of Catalonia and incorporate the essence of Crema Catalana into your own culinary repertoire, celebrating the simplicity and depth of Spanish desserts.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Spanish
Servings 6
Calories 852 kcal


  • 1 medium bowl


  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 2-1/2 cups of whole milk
  • A peel from lemon and orange
  • Fresh fruit like figs
  • 2 tablespoons of cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup superfine sugar


  • In a medium bowl on heat, combine the milk, lemon peels, and bay leaf. Bring to the boil gradually.
  • Whereas the milk is gently heating, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until light yellow.
  • Slowly pour the egg yolk solution into the milk, constantly swirling to avoid scrambling the eggs!
  • Over low heat, stir continuously until the sauce has solidified.
  • Enjoy with fruit on top (recommended).
Keyword cinnamon stick, cornstarch, egg yolks, figs

Cooking tips about Crema Catalana

Crema catalana (di Luca Montersino)

  • Select Quality Ingredients: The foundation of an exquisite Crema Catalana lies in the quality of its ingredients. Use fresh, organic egg yolks and high-quality whole milk or cream for the custard base, ensuring a rich flavor and smooth texture.
  • Infuse with Aromatics: The distinctive note of Crema Catalana comes from infusing the milk with cinnamon and lemon or orange zest during the heating process. This not only imparts a fragrant aroma but also adds layers of flavor that differentiate it from other custards.
  • Control Heat Carefully: When cooking the custard, control the heat carefully to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Cook over low heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. A double boiler can also be used to provide gentle, even heat.
  • Strain for Smoothness: After infusion, strain the milk through a fine sieve to remove the cinnamon stick and citrus peels, ensuring the final texture of the custard is smooth without any bits.
  • Prevent Skin Formation: To prevent a skin from forming on the custard as it cools, cover the surface directly with plastic wrap or wax paper. This step is crucial to maintain the silky consistency crucial to the dessert.
  • Caramelize Sugar Carefully: The caramelized sugar topping is iconic to Crema Catalana. Sprinkle a thin, even layer of sugar over the chilled custard before using a kitchen torch to caramelize it. The sugar should melt and form a crisp, golden crust. If you don’t have a torch, a very hot broiler can achieve a similar effect, but watch it closely to avoid burning.
  • Chill Before Serving: For the best texture and flavor integration, chill the Crema Catalana well before adding the sugar layer and caramelizing it. This not only sets the custard further but ensures a pleasing contrast between the cold custard and the warm, crackled sugar topping.

Serving suggestions about Crema Catalana

Crema Catalana Recipe -

  • Classic Presentation: Serve Crema Catalana in traditional earthenware dishes to maintain authenticity. The rustic charm of the pottery can enhance the dining experience, bringing a piece of Catalan culture to your table.
  • Garnish with Citrus: Accentuate the citrus undertones of the custard by garnishing with thinly sliced oranges or a sprinkle of lemon zest. This not only adds color but also a refreshing aroma that complements the dish perfectly.
  • Pair with Seasonal Fruits: Offer a side of fresh, seasonal fruits such as berries or figs to introduce a juicy sweetness that contrasts beautifully with the rich creaminess and the crisp, burnt sugar topping.
  • Accompany with Sweet Wine: A glass of Moscatel or another dessert wine pairs wonderfully with Crema Catalana. The wine’s sweetness and body are a great match for the custard’s texture and flavor intensity.
  • Coffee or Tea Pairing: Conclude your dining experience by serving Crema Catalana with a strong espresso or a delicate tea. The robust coffee or the subtleness of the tea can cleanse the palate and complement the dessert’s richness.
  • Small Bites, Big Flavors: Consider serving Crema Catalana in small, clear glasses as part of a dessert tasting menu. This allows guests to appreciate the beauty of the layers and enjoy a perfect amount of sweetness at the end of a meal.
  • Add a Modern Twist: Experiment by incorporating modern culinary techniques, such as using a siphon to aerate the custard or adding flavor infusions like lavender or cardamom to the milk mixture before cooking, for an intriguing twist on the classic flavor.

Top 5 FAQs about Crema Catalana

Spanish Crema Catalana Recipe - For The Love Of Sazón

  • What is Crema Catalana? Crema Catalana is a classic Catalan dessert known for its lush, creamy base topped with a layer of caramelized sugar. This confectionery delight offers an exquisite contrast of textures—from the smooth, rich custard to the brittle, sweet crust. It embodies a simple yet sophisticated blend of flavors, including egg yolks for richness, cinnamon for a touch of warmth, and figs for sweetness, making it a unique and cherished dish in Catalan cuisine.
  • What are the key ingredients in Crema Catalana? The primary ingredients that make up Crema Catalana include egg yolks, which provide the custard’s creamy texture and rich taste; cinnamon, adding a warm, fragrant aroma; and figs or lemon/orange zest to introduce a natural sweetness and subtle citrus notes. These elements come together to create a dessert that is both flavorful and comforting.
  • How do you achieve the perfect caramelized sugar topping? Achieving the iconic caramelized sugar topping of Crema Catalana involves sprinkling a thin, even layer of sugar over the prepared custard and then using a kitchen torch to carefully melt the sugar until it forms a crisp, golden crust. For those without a kitchen torch, placing the sugared custard under a very hot broiler for a brief period can produce a similar effect. The key is to watch it closely to prevent burning.
  • What sets Crema Catalana apart from other custards? Crema Catalana is distinguished by its unique flavor profile that incorporates cinnamon and citrus zest, infusing the custard with depth and character not typically found in other custards like French crème brûlée. Additionally, its preparation method, particularly the caramelization of sugar just before serving to ensure a contrast of temperatures (cool custard and warm, crackled topping), sets it apart as a distinct dessert experience.
  • Any tips for making Crema Catalana at home? Some crucial tips for creating an exceptional Crema Catalana at home include selecting high-quality, fresh ingredients for the best flavor outcome; carefully controlling the cooking heat to avoid curdling the eggs; infusing the milk with cinnamon and citrus zest for signature flavoring; straining the mixture for smoothness; and allowing the custard to chill thoroughly before adding the sugar layer for caramelization. Remember, the contrast between the creamy custard and the hard caramelized sugar is key, so chill the custard well and serve immediately after caramelizing the sugar top.

Crema Catalana stands as a luminous example of the simplicity and elegance inherent in Catalan cuisine, captivating those who seek both comfort and a touch of sophistication in their culinary encounters. This traditional dessert, with its rich, creamy custard base and brittle caramelized sugar topping, offers a symphony of textures and flavors that speak to the soul of Catalonia itself. From its delicate infusion of cinnamon and citrus that whispers tales of Mediterranean orchards to the dramatic crunch of its burnt sugar crust that echoes the vibrant spirit of Catalan festivals, Crema Catalana is more than just a dish—it’s an experience. Through the process of mastering this beloved recipe, from selecting the finest ingredients to achieving that perfect caramelization, I have not only enriched my own culinary repertoire but have also embraced the opportunity to share a piece of Catalan heritage with the world. In doing so, Crema Catalana becomes a bridge between cultures, inviting all to partake in the joy and communal spirit of Spanish dining. It is with great pride and joy that I offer this journey into the heart of Catalan dessert tradition, encouraging others to discover the timeless appeal and layered flavors of Crema Catalana, a true gem of culinary artistry.


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