A fun little cultural difference between Spain and the US can be found right in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. In the US, at least in my experience, the desserts that you find in the yogurt section are… a bit sad. Don’t get me wrong – I loved pudding snack packs as much as the next kid growing up. But you won’t find anything mind blowing there.
In Spain, it’s a totally different story. The refrigerator section of the grocery store is a gold mine. They’ve got flan, they’ve got arroz con leche. They’ve got little mini cheesecakes and they’ve even got cheesecake flan! And none of it is sad or a cheap snack just for kids. It’s all delicious and tastes practically homemade.
One dessert that I fell in love with was natillas, which is a sort of rich custardy pudding infused with cinnamon and lemon. I thought – if it tastes this good store bought, I bet homemade natillas will be amazing. I was right – it’s fantastic.
Go ahead and give this dessert a shot, it’s the grown up successful European brother of the American pudding snack pack.
- 1 liter of whole milk
- 5 egg yolks
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 1 lemon peel
- 1-2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Set aside 1 cup of the milk and save it for later
- Put the rest of the milk (except for the 1 cup) into a sauce pan along with the cinnamon stick and lemon peel and bring to a simmer. When it starts to simmer, reduce the heat to low and make sure it does not burn. Cook on low heat for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add the cornstarch to the 1 cup of milk that you set aside. Mix until combined and there are no lumps.
- In a separate bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar. Beat until smooth and then add the cornstarch and milk mixture. Beat this mixture well until very smooth.
- Remove the milk with the cinnamon and lemon from the heat. Using a colander, drain this mixture so that you're left with only the milk and nothing else in it.
- While continuously beating the warm milk mixture, little by little add the egg mixture until it's all incorporated.
- Once you have all of the ingredients incorporated, return the pot to a very low heat and mix it without stopping so that it does not burn.
- Cook on low heat while mixing nonstop for about 10 minutes until the custard thickens.
- Remove from the heat and add to the cups that you want to serve it in. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Refrigerate for several hours
- Serve cold