This post is going to be quick as I’m off to San Francisco for the BlogHer Food Conference at the St Regis (very classy!). To match the mood, here’s an elegant dessert that would fit right in with a dessert spread at a top-tier hotel buffet. Best of all, it is so simple to make that you could have your very own home-made classy dessert that might just tempt your guests to stick out their pinkie as they hold their spoons.
Personally, I find cold custards for dessert a rather strange concept, but their oh-so-smooth texture wins me over each time. Made with a host of flavors, this version has a Middle Eastern influence with the addition of saffron, cardamom and rose water, producing a very tempting and exotic balance of flavors.
Apart from the caramel, which can be tricky if you don’t make it very often, cream caramel is perfect for a ‘pick-me-up’ weekday dessert. You could prep it over the weekend and chill in the fridge for a mid-week treat. That is, if you can resist diving into its sweet center after leaving it to set.
Saffron Cream Caramel (adapted from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food)
1¼ whole milk
¼ cup sugar plus 4 tablespoons for the caramel
A pinch of saffron and cardamom
2 tablespoons rose water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350F/ 180C.
Combine the milk, sugar, saffron and cardamom in a saucepan over medium heat until very hot (just under boiling), stirring occasionally to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom. Take off heat and let it cool until lukewarm. Add the rosewater and gradually beat in the eggs.
Heat the 4 tablespoons of sugar until it melts and turns a dark brown. Add 4 tablespoons water by brushing the liquid down the sides of the pan. This will prevent the caramel from clumping and also avoids the intense sputtering of adding cold water to a hot substance.
Immediately pour the caramel into mold or ramekin(s) of your preferred size, turning the mold as you pour to evenly coat the bottom and reaches up to the sides. Let it cool, then pour the milk mixture slowly into the molds.
Place the molds into a baking tray filled with water that comes halfway up the height of the mold and bake for 1 to 1½ hours until the custards set. It should not jiggle too much when you tilt the molds.
Chill for at least an hour before turning it out. Run a knife around the edges, place a serving dish on top and invert the mold on the plate.