Catalan cream

Catalan cream : It is a typical sweet preparation of Catalonia, which later spread throughout the whole of Spain, where it is also known by the name of crema crema and crema de San José since it is customary to prepare it on 19 March for the commemoration of this Saint.

It is a simple preparation with common ingredients and is characterized by having on its surface a layer of sugar that is then burned by means of a red-heated iron, as was done in the past, or by means of a blowtorch , a more modern element, for give it a crispy layer.

This cream can be consumed as it is or used to fill Ensaimadas or other types of pastries or pastries. Today there are numerous industrial desserts with this flavor, and a liqueur based on this recipe has even been marketed.


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  • 1 Story
  • 2 Catalan cream recipe
    • 1 Ingredients
    • 2 Preparation
  • 3 Catalan cream, custard and crème brulee
  • 4 Sources


It is believed that the first time this recipe was found was within medieval recipes that date back to the 14th and 16th century, so it could have between 500 and 700 years of history.

It is one of the oldest desserts in Catalonia and is found in the Llibre de Sent Soví recipes from the 14th century, in the Llibre del Coch from the 16th century and even in the Cajón de Sastre from the 18th century, so no one else can attribute it its origin today, despite the fact that at some point in history the French and English wanted to claim the merit of their invention.

In fact, there is a history from the year 1879 in which the English attributed the creation of this recipe, since according to them the plate carries the coat of arms of Trinity College, Cambridge and was called Trinity cream, however, that history it was ruled out by the same institution, to date the Catalan origin the only one with real foundations.

Catalan Cream Liqueur

They say that in the 18th century a bishop who was visiting a Catalan convent received as a gift a very special flan for dessert. It happened that once it was finished making, the nuns who made it realized that the flan had been somewhat more liquid than usual, and to modify that texture they decided to give it a different touch by adding burnt sugar on top. When they offered the bishop dessert, the sugar was still hot and the bishop exclaimed cream !, Which in Catalan means burning! And thus the name of the dish came up.

Catalan cream recipe


  • 5 egg yolks
  • 600 ml of whole milk
  • 100 g of sugar
  • 25 g cornstarch
  • The skin of half a lemon or orange and cinnamon sticks or powder (to flavor the milk)
  • 30 g of sugar (to caramelize)


  1. Put more than half the milk on the fire with the lemon peel and the cinnamon stick and cook over medium heat until it almost boils.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl mix the sugar and the yolks.
  3. In another bowl mix the rest of the milk with the cornstarch with a few rods, add it to the yolks and mix well.
  4. Add the milk to heat, little by little without stopping stirring and straining it to avoid traces of lemon peel and the cinnamon stick.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and bring to medium heat without stopping stirring, using a wooden spoon or spatula until it begins to thicken a little.
  6. To know if it is ready, wet the back of the spoon and run your finger through the center, when it leaves a mark, remove from the heat.
  7. The cream is poured into the containers, covering with transparent film to cool at room temperature, and then it is reserved in the refrigerator until it curds, a minimum of 3 or 4 hours.
  8. Once cold and before serving, a generous layer of sugar is spread on the surface and burned with the help of a blowtorch or a kitchen griddle.
  9. It is traditional to serve the Catalan cream in a clay pot, with a piece of waffle with which to break the thin outer layer and eat the cream that is hidden underneath.

Catalan cream, custard and crème brulee

It is common to find confusions of concept between these desserts, some people assure that they are the same dish, but this is not the case.

Although the ingredients are the same, the quantities are not and therefore, the consistency and flavor change. The main difference is that the custard is more liquid, its cream is sweeter and it does not contain caramelized sugar. Catalan cream is a little thicker and its cream is less sweet to compensate for the caramelized sugar on the surface.

Another difference is the taste. Custard is usually cooked with vanilla, while Catalan cream is flavored with cinnamon and lemon or sometimes also with orange peel.

The cream most similar to Catalan cream is the crème brulée of French origin. The difference is that the Catalan cream is thickened with egg and cornstarch and the crème brulée is made with cream and eggs, and cooked in a double boiler, more like a flan. Both are dusted with sugar and burned.

Catalan cream could be defined as more delicate and smooth than pastry cream since the latter has flour to thicken it, while Catalan cream is thickened with corn starch. It could also be classified by placing it in an intermediate place between the pastry cream and the crème brulée


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