If you've never heard of Crema Catalana, let me introduce you to my keto low-carb and dairy free version of the dessert.
Crema Catalana comes somewhat close to Creme Brulee, but in fact, it is pretty different. A lot of people think it is just a Spanish version of the French dessert. But truth be told, it is not. First, it is Catalan, not Spanish, and second, it is not "bruleed." It is cooked and has a different, less creamy texture. What's more, it's not vanilla flavored. It has a bit of a sour taste with a hint of cinnamon.
I had my first Creme Brulee in France and my first Crema Catalana in Barcelona. Admittedly, I was a little disappointed with it at first sight. I remember digging in the ramekin with a tiny spoon, thinking: "Where are the vanilla seeds?! Why is it so runny?" And while tasting it: "What's up with the sour taste?" I actually thought the chef simply had no clue about how to prepare a proper creme brulee.
Well, I was wrong. It's a different dessert. It's made mostly of milk (not heavy cream as opposed to creme brulee), and it's supposed to taste of citrus fruit zest and cinnamon. And last but not least, it's not cooked in the oven, just slowly heated and slightly cooked on really low heat. It's not supposed to be as dense as creme brulee. But the two desserts do share the caramelized sugar on top and look completely the same from an airplane.
The low carb version of Crema Catalana has to deviate even more from the original than the keto Creme Brulee. I suggest using coconut cream (leave the full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight and just use the cream. Leave the water for a smoothie or something) and really, I mean really slow cooking on low heat. You don't want the eggs to cook and crumble, and the custard needs not to be too runny after sitting in the fridge for a few hours.
The recipe demands some patience. But if you're a fan of Crema Catalana, and have gone low-carb, do give it a try. The taste will be worth it!
Crema Catalana (Dairy-Free)
- Place coconut milk, cinnamon stick (cut in half), and lemon zest in a saucepan, and bring to the boil.
- Remove from heat and let it sit for 1 hour.
- With an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and powdered erythritol until the mixture becomes pale, thick, and fluffy.
- Add in coconut flour and beat until all lumps have disappeared.
- When the coconut milk mixture has been sitting for an hour, bring it back to the boil. Next, pour it though a sieve into a bowl.
- First, add only 2 tbsp. of the warm coconut mixture to the eggs and stir to incorporate. Then, add the rest of the coconut mixture and mix.
- Return the mixture to the saucepan on low heat. This step will require patience. Keep the heat low, stir occasionally until the mixture gets thick and coats the back of a spatula or a wooden spoon. This might take even 10 minutes. Do not turn the heat up as you will likely cook the eggs, and make a lumpy custard.
- Pour into ramekins. When cooled, place in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).
- Before serving, sprinkle 1 tbsp. of erythritol over each Crema Catalana, making sure that the whole surface is covered. Using a blowtorch, try to caramelise the erythritol. This will not be as successful as when using ordinary sugar, but erythritol still does a fine job.
- Optional: You can make Crema Catalana ice cream by simply placing the ramekins into a freezer. Stir the custard every now and then, so it does not crystallize too much. You can still top the frozen ones with “caramelised” erythritol before serving.