Yield: 6 individual crème caramels
“Back to Baking”, pp. 197
Last weekend I had several egg yolks leftover from making Swiss buttercream for a birthday cake, so I decided to take the opportunity to make this crème caramel recipe to use them up. It was an interesting dessert to make and not too complicated. I really enjoyed making the caramel, letting it harden and topping it with the egg and green tea-infused milk mixture. These little green tea ginger crème caramel were pretty and very flavourful. The green tea flavour really came through and was just perfect, and I suspect that the strength of this flavour could really be dampened or heightened based on how long the green tea soaks in the milk. My mixture was set to medium-low so it took longer to get to a simmer and thus infused for longer. I did not detect the ginger flavour that much, but that is probably because I forgot to buy fresh ginger and used ground ginger instead. I used ¼ teaspoon to substitute the 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, but I guess it was not sufficient. I would thus strongly advise to use fresh ginger for this recipe, if you have it!
Although I did like the flavour a lot, the texture of a crème caramel or flan is something that I do not enjoy. It is for the same reason that I do not like jello. It is not quite liquid but not solid either, and the mushy feeling as I eat it does not sit well with me. But that is more of a personal preference rather than something negative about the dessert. My boyfriend who has no such problem over textures really enjoyed this dessert. I must also say that I really struggled to get the crème caramel out of the ramekin, especially the caramel part, so I would advise making sure that you grease the sides of the ramekin really well. I still don’t know what the best trick would be to unmold the hardened caramel. If you like caramel, green tea, or both, I strongly suggest making this lovely dessert, especially if you find yourself with an excess of egg yolks to use up.
- 3 tablespoons water
- ¾ cup + ⅓ cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 ½ cups milk
- 2 bags green tea or 1 tablespoon loose green tea
- 2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a saucepot, bring the water, ¾ cup of the sugar and cream of tartar up to a boil. Boil over high heat without stirring, but occasionally brushing the sides of the pot with water until the sugar caramelizes and becomes a nice amber colour, about 3 minutes.
Carefully pour the hot sugar into six 6-ounce (180 mL) ramekins and swirl to coat the bottom of the dishes. After the sugar has cooled, lightly grease the surface of the ramekins that is not coated with the caramel and place them into a larger pan that has sides that come up to at least the height of the ramekins.
- Heat the milk with the green tea and ginger until just below a simmer. Remove the tea bags, or, if using loose tea, strain out the tea.
- In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, yolks, remaining ⅓ cup of sugar and the vanilla extract. While still whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk. Ladle this mixture into the ramekins.
- Pour boiling water around the ramekins and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custards are set but still have a little jiggle in the centre. Remove the ramekins from the water after they have cooled for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then chill until set, about 3 hours.
To serve, run a knife or palette knife around the inside of each dish, place a plate over each and invert, watching out for the caramel syrup that may run out. Serve on their own or with fresh berries. The custards will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Yield: 12 tarts
“Back to Baking”, pp. 102
Not one to waste egg yolks that I had leftover from making a Swiss buttercream, I decided to finally try making this lovely recipe for Portuguese custard tarts, also called natas here in Quebec. This recipe was actually a little bit more challenging to make. I found it quite interesting to add softened butter to the top of a rolled out pie dough to ultimately convert it to a flaky dough once baked. Pretty ingenious! This recipe is a bit more time consuming than your average cookies or tart, but I much enjoyed the process, especially rolling out the 12 littles pieces of dough individually and filling them with custard. A word to the wise, because of all the added butter, when rolling out the individual dough pieces they will become soft very quickly, so make sure that you flour the surface that you are rolling on and the you don’t overwork the dough!
The taste of the tarts is very good and the custard itself is tasty and just right, not too eggy or creamy. However, it is evident that I did not roll out each of the 12 portions thin enough (I never know what 1/4 inch looks like and I am too lazy to take out a ruler and measure), because when baking them the dough almost doubled in size and is a bit too thick. As a result, my tarts don’t have the pretty overhangs to be expected based on the recipe and the dough-to-custard ratio is a bit too high. Nonetheless, they taste very good. If I do these again I would just make sure to roll them out thin enough so that I don’t have very thick tarts.
- 1 recipe Double-Crust Pie Dough, wrapped in one piece and chilled
- 5 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup half-and-half cream
- 3/4 cup milk
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons +1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Pull the dough from the fridge 30 minutes before rolling. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the entire piece of pie dough into a rectangular shape that is about 20 inches by 12 inches long (50 x 30 cm), and 1/4 inch thick.
- Evenly spread 5 tablespoons of the softened room temperature butter over the surface of the dough, and roll up the pastry from the short end. Wrap and chill the dough while preparing the filling.
- Heat the cream and milk in a pot over medium heat to just below a simmer.
- In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and vanilla extract.
- While whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in the hot cream, then pour everything back in the pot. Whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it thickens and just begins to bubble, about 4 minutes.
- Strain the custard into a bowl and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming. Cool the custard on the counter at room temperature, then chill for 1½ hours.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut 12 discs from the log. Roll out each portion on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thickness. Trim with a 5-inch round cutter and press each portion into the muffin tin so that the edges of each tart shell are about 1/2 inch above the edge of the muffin cup.
- Spoon the chilled custard into each pastry.
- Bake the tarts for 35 to 45 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the custard has browned on top somewhat. Cool the tarts in the tin before removing to serve at room temperature or chilled.
Yield: 4 to 6 individual crème brûlées
“Back to Baking”, pp. 192
Having plenty of cream in my fridge meant that I was going to make a custardy-type dessert, such as this maple crème topped with an almond crackle. It is not a crème brûlée per se because the top has not been coated with sugar that was burnt and caramelized to create the typical hard crust. In its place, a nut crackle is used to create the crunchy feeling usually obtained by the caramelization of the sugar. This is rather a lighter version of the classic dessert as it uses less whipping cream and half-and-half to complement it. I think that I accidentally slightly undercooked this dessert as the consistence of the inside was a bit less firm than I expected. I am still getting used to finding the right “jiggle” for custards and crème brûlées! Nonetheless, the dessert taste great and the addition of maple syrup made it decadent and flavorful.
- ¼ cups half-and-half cream
- ¾ cup milk
- ⅔ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 recipe Nut Crackle (almond)
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Arrange four 6-ounce (180 mL) ramekins or other baking dishes in a much larger baking dish that has sides that are at least the height of the ramekins.
- Whisk together all the ingredients (except the crackle). Pour them into the prepared ramekins.
- Pour boiling water around the ramekins so that the water comes up to about two-thirds of the height of the ramekins.
- Bake the crèmes between 35-45 minutes, until they are set around the outside but still jiggle a bit at the centre. Allow the custards to cool in the water-filled pan for 10 minutes, then carefully remove them from the water to cool to room temperature before chilling for at least 4 hours.
- The crackle can be prepared while the crèmes are in the oven. To serve, break the crackle into pieces and place the, on top of the crèmes immediately before serving.
Notes from Anna:
- This is a lighter version of the original crème brûlée since the recipe calls for half-and-half cream as opposed to heavy (whipping) cream.
- The brûlées can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
Yield: 6-7 individual crème brûlées
“Back to Baking”, pp. 191
Considering that I was, to my surprise, fairly successful in making the classic crème brûlées last time, I thought that I would be a little fancy and attempt the dulce de leche crème brûlée. Dulce de leche consists in sweet milk which can be obtained by caramelizing sugar in milk. I made the classic vanilla crème brûlée several months ago and sadly I had forgotten how delicious it was. I dare say, however, that this caramelized version is my favorite of the two. It gives the “burnt cream” a sweet taste that complements the cream well without overwhelming it.
I have not yet mastered the art of caramelizing the sugar on the surface of the crème brûlée, but I think that I am getting a little better with practice. I followed Anna’s advice from the cookbook and caramelized two (actually three!) thin layers of sugar as opposed to a thick one to favor the formation of a hard surface. Perhaps it is not apparent here, but I assure you that the surface of these little crème brûlées was hard and cracked upon the first spoonful. I brought these at a movie night and let me assure you that they were a great success! Friends told me that this was one of their favorite desserts thus far. A scrumptious, sweet and creamy dessert awaits you if you make this recipe.
- 1 tin (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
- 1 ½ cups whipping cream
- 1 cup 5% half-and-half cream
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Sugar, for torching
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease six or seven 6-once ramekins and place them into a baking dish that is at least as high as the dishes.
- Pour the condensed milk into a heavy-bottomed saucepot and whisk in ½ cup of the whipping cream. Constantly stir the condensed milk mixture with a silicone spatula over medium heat until it thickens and caramelizes lightly to a golden brown color, about 13-16 minutes.
- Whisk in the remaining 1 cup of whipping cream and the half-and-half cream and bring this to just below a simmer. Make sure to whisk until the caramelized condensed milk mixture (dulce de leche) dissolves into the cream.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, egg and vanilla extract.
- Pour the condensed milk mixture into the eggs and whisk until the mixture is homogenous.
- Carefully pour this mixture into the ramekins. Pour boiling water around the ramekins so that the water comes at least halfway up the ramekins. Bake the custards for 30-35 minutes, until the custards are set at the edges but still jiggle in the middle. Let them cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then carefully remove to cool at room temperature before chilling for at least 3 hours.
- To serve the brûlées, sprinkle the tops of each of the custards with a thin layer of sugar, then melt and caramelize the sugar using a kitchen torch. Add a second layer of sugar and repeat. This technique builds a crunchy top that is less likely to burn than if you put on a thick layer of sugar.
Yield: 6 individual possets
“Back to Baking”, pp. 207
Who doesn’t love a good lemon dessert? It feels light, refreshing and tends to make you feel less guilty than eating a piece of double chocolate cake with caramel frosting. Simply put, this dessert is one of the simplest, fastest and most scrumptious desserts that I have ever made. It takes less than 5 minutes to make and best of all requires no baking! With its rich lemon flavor it is sure to be a people-pleaser wherever you may bring them. The texture of this egg-less custard is just perfect: soft and firm at the same time and almost pudding-like. Heavenly, I say!
- 2 cups whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sour cream (not low-fat !)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a small saucepot, whisk together the whipping cream, sour cream, sugar and lemon zest over medium-low heat just until the sugar has melted.
- Remove the pot from heat and stir in the lemon juice and vanilla extract.
- Pour this mixture into 6 serving dishes (glass or ceramic) and let it set at least 6 hours, up to 24 hours.
Notes from Anna:
- Since this custard is not baked and contains no eggs, its consistency is more fluid than a traditional set custard. It is eaten with a spoon and turns fluid once stirred.