Just as we were getting ready to post another lovely recipe from The Cuban Table, our friend Ellen Silverman‘s brainchild created in league with Ana Sofia Pelaez, we heard the news that relations were getting warmer between Cuba and the US, that some of the embargo that’s hurt the country so terribly may be easing at last. If you’re confused about what’s going on with Cuba, we recommend reading Vox’s illuminating “9 questions about Cuba you were too embarrassed to ask“. In the meantime, we’re going to dance to this beauty of a video from the documentary Cuba Feliz, and make Pelaez’s lovely Egg Custard scented with cinnamon, lime and vanilla. (Video link HERE.)
Recipe: Egg Custard (Natilla)
Armed only with our grandmother’s list of ingredients with no indication of how she put them together, for years my sister Carmen and I took turns attempting her natilla to no avail. We’d come close but fall short of the smoothly rich custard she made so effortlessly. Finally, scribbled as a side note among her niece’s papers, I found the full recipe. Contrary to what I knew about making custard, the ingredients are beaten together cold then strained and simmered. With a wooden spoon in hand, my sister followed the new directions and suddenly there it was, just as we remembered it. The next morning, I was relieved to see the natilla still in the fridge, half expecting it to have disappeared again.
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1⁄8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 whole cinnamon stick
One 2-inch strip of lime peel
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is well combined and there are no visible yolks.
Pass the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick and lime peel and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until it thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low,
stir in the vanilla, and continue to stir until it coats the back of the spoon, an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and set aside.
Pour the custard into individual bowls or ramekins while still warm. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Bring the custard to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator until set, at least 2 hours.
The custard can be kept chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.