(This recipe is in autumn theme.) I just came back from Greece. It was absolutely lovely. The weather, the sea, the people, the remains of ancient cultures….. I love it. And of course the food. Not very refined, more rustic but always fresh and with lovely ingredients. And of course the famous Mediterranean diet. I bought olive oil from 2 farmer brothers, who told me that in their youth, their mother used about a litre of olive oil a day in their 8 people household! A very sympathetic custom in Greece is that after the main course you get offered a small dessert and some Raki, for free. The Raki, we did not always finish, but to have just a tiny bite of dessert was wonderful. You feel really pampered and satisfied. This dessert has that same effect. Easy to make, but with a big wow factor. Read the notes for some important succesfactors.
- 2 cups heavy or light cream, or half-and-half
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar, more for topping
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- In a saucepan, combine cream, vanilla bean and salt and cook over low heat just until hot.
- Let sit for a few minutes, then discard vanilla bean. (If using vanilla extract, add it now.)
- In a bowl, beat yolks and sugar together until light.
- Stir about a quarter of the cream into this mixture, then pour sugar-egg mixture into cream and stir.
- Pour into four 6-ounce ramekins and place ramekins in a baking dish
- Fill dish with boiling water halfway up the sides of the dishes
- Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until centers are barely set.
- Cool completely! Refrigerate for several hours and up to a couple of days.
- When ready to serve; top each custard with about a teaspoon of sugar in a thin layer
- Place ramekins in a broiler 2 to 3 inches from heat source
- Turn on broiler. Cook until sugar melts and browns or even blackens a bit, about 5 minutes
- You can garnish with some red fruit, or serve just like this
Be sure to comepletely cool the creme before heating up the sugar layer, otherwise the custard will turn to soup.
Serve within two hours, otherwise sugar will start to melt
In the recipe we use the broiler to caramelise the sugar, but you can use a small propane torch as well. Also, you can heat up a metal spoon, and then press the spoon gently on the sugar. Repeat a couple of times and the sugar will crisp up as well.