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)
Serves 8

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
Ground cinnamon

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.

CubanTable cover

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4 replies on “The Cuban Table’s Divine Custard Recipe with Music

  1. Incredible timing Sally!

    Lets hope for the best for everybody involved.. Governments can do their bussiness, but I do really care about the people who suffered from all these kind of things.

    If you never visit Cuba, you have to. It’s an incredible and poetic land, with the warmest people, great music, beautiful flowers and the biggest jewel of the island: La Habana Vieja.

    But what it’s really interesting is that being there forces you to meditate and reflect about the World we want… And good mojitos can help you with that!

  2. I love this recipe! I have made it already multiple times and not only is it very easy to make, but people seem to love how it tastes.
    I will say though, that this desert requires some self control. It is to have a little bit of, not the whole pot for yourself. 🙂

  3. I made this custard this morning, and because I love lime! I decorated the tops of the ramekins with some lime zest and then in a fit of improvisation a few shelled pistachios and a tiny touch of Penzey’s baking spice because I had no ground cinnamon. Improvise!
    For me, test for a good recipe is would you make it again? I would say yes! It is a bit on the sweet side, I think the sugar could be reduced but it’s creamy, luscious and looks like a festive party in the ramekin. I would love to share my photo of the finished product but don’t see a link here for a photo attachment.

  4. What to do with the leftover egg whites? Make meringues as I see you have done ! I made meringues with cocoa power and espresso and I think the creamy custard will be lovely with a side of mocha meringues. Two desserts! and no waste!
    Thanks for sharing this gem.
    I have reserved the book at my local library to have a deeper look.

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