This is a traditional Catalan dessert made of milk, eggs, cinnamon or vanilla beans, lemon peel, and sugar. It is a very creamy custard topped with caramelized sugar. It is a staple of many holidays, especially for Saint Joseph or Father's Day in Catalonia, so some people know it as Crema de Sant Josep. Today it's eaten any day of the year and it's offered on many dessert menus year round. This dish is the equivalent of the French crème brûlée. The difference is that the French burn the sugar with a torch and the Catalans use a hot iron in the shape of a circle.
4 cups whole milk
8 egg yolks
2 tablespoons corn starch
6 tablespoons sugar plus 1/2 tablespoon more per dish to burn
1 cinnamon stick (I use 1 vanilla bean instead. If you use vanilla bean, cut the bean open and extract the vanilla with the tip of a knife.)
1 lemon peel
In a deep pan put 3 cups of milk (save one to mix with the corn starch), the cinnamon stick, and the lemon peel on a very low heat. Just before it starts boiling, remove the pan from the heat. While the milk is heating, take a large bowl, put in the eggs, the sugar and the corn starch previously mixed with 1 cup of milk, and stir. When the milk is ready, take a colander and add it to this mix little by little and keep stirring. Put everything back into the deep pan and cook it on a low heat, stirring continuously until you get a creamy consistency or until it gets to the boiling point. Then remove the pan from the burner and divide the cream evenly in small earthenware bowls. Put them in the refrigerator to cool off. Before serving, place about 1/2 tablespoon of sugar on top of each dish and burn it to make a hard caramel. I use a plumbers' torch.
This is a delicious combination of creamy cold custard with hot caramel. It's an easy and quick dish to make.