For this past Christmas, I had asked for the recently published cookbook, The Cuban Table: A Celebration of Food, Flavors, and History. I absolutely adore Cuban food but for whatever reason have never owned an actual Cuban cookbook. When I first saw mention of author Ana Sofia Pelaez’s upcoming book release, I was immediately smitten by the images and recipes shown on preview posts. When I opened it on Christmas morning I was utterly entranced, namely by the fact that it resembled more of a coffee table book than a cookbook due to its beautiful photographs of both the dishes featured in it and also the scenes of Cuban life. As you all know, Cuba is a dream destination of mine and I could look at pictures of the country all day.
While I was (and still am) so anxious to try out the many incredible sounding recipes, for my inaugural one I opted for a simple dish. When my parents were visiting at Christmas, my mom and I prepared a dinner of tapas one night. As we had done afternoon tea earlier in the day (post on this experience coming soon so stay tuned) and had gorged on countless sweets, I also wanted something on the lighter side. And that’s where egg custard or natilla as it’s known in Spanish comes into play. Neither rich nor heavy, a light dessert served in a sherbet glass offered just the right amount of sweetness post-dinner.
All the props for this one go to my mom as she was the one to make it and she did a fabulous job. My only suggestion is that while the recipe is incredibly quick and easy to make, just allow for plenty of “chilling time.”
Natilla (Egg Custard)
Recipe courtesy of Ana Sofia Pelaez’s The Cuban Table
4 cups whole milk at room temperature
4 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1 whole cinnamon stick
One 2-inch strip of lime peel
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Combine the milk, eggs yolk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mixture is well combined and there are no visible yolks.
-Pour the milk mixture 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 5-7 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.