Recipe and image from Coastline by Lucio Galletto and David Dale (Murdoch Books)
Crèma Catalana (Toffee-topped custard)
700 ml (24 fl oz) thin (pouring) cream
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, split lengthways, seeds scraped
3 teaspoons lemon zest
3 teaspoons orange zest
8 egg yolks
125 g (4½ oz/heaped ½ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
For the topping
75 g (2½ oz/1/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F). Place two large ramekins, each about 450 ml
(16 fl oz) capacity, in a baking dish lined with a tea towel.
In a saucepan, combine the cream, milk, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean pods and seeds, and the lemon and orange zest. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve, into a clean saucepan.
In a large heatproof bowl, mix together the egg yolks and the sugar until creamy. Bring the milk and cream back up to the boil, then pour it onto the egg yolks, one-third at a time, whisking well. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, into a jug.
Three-quarters fill the ramekins with the mixture, then place the baking dish on a shelf in the oven. Finish filling the ramekins to just below the tops, then pour hot water into the baking dish, to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for about 30 minutes, until the custards are set, with a slight wobble in the centre.
Remove the ramekins from the baking dish and let them cool at room temperature for 20 minutes, before putting them in the fridge for a few hours.
Evenly coat the top of each crèma catalana with the sugar, then caramelise lightly under a hot grill (broiler) — or with a kitchen blowtorch, if you have one — until golden brown. Serve immediately, or at room temperature. Give one of your guests the privilege of cracking the surface and serving the others.
Note: You could also pour the crèma catalana mixture into six smaller ramekins, and bake the custards for only about 12 minutes, until there is a slight wobble in the centre.