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Monday, March 2, 2015

Natillas (Vanilla-Lemon Custard)

Natillas is a very traditional Spanish dessert; you can find it in the menu of every restaurant in Spain, in the refrigerated section of every supermarket and in every home. It is a custard dish made with milk, eggs, vanilla bean and lemon zest and it is traditionally served with cinnamon on top. It differs from the custard used in French cuisine for crème brûlée since its consistency is much lighter.
I find it an easy dessert to make and if there are children around they will lick the bowls until clean. It is packed with calcium and it is gluten-free!

Tips: You will get a richer custard if you use either whole milk or 2% milk.
You need to constantly stir your custard while it is over the heat or it will become lumpy and the result will be terrible. Never let your custard boil or it will also get lumpy.
You will have to cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise, then scratch inside with the tip of a knife to get all the seeds out and into the milk. If you cannot find fresh vanilla bean, you can substitute for 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.


5 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
5 cups milk (whole milk or 2% preferred)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 vanilla bean
zest of one lemon
ground cinnamon

Place milk, lemon zest and vanilla bean (cut in half lengthwise) in a saucepan and heat at medium-low until about to boil. Do not let milk boil, separate from heat and cover pan; let rest for 5 minutes to infuse vanilla and lemon flavors.

Before heating

After heating; cover and let rest for 5 minutes to infuse flavors
In a heavy bottomed pan add egg yolks and sugar and whisk for about 5 minutes until pale yellow. Add corn starch and mix well.

Whisk egg yolks and sugar until pale yellow, then add cornstarch whisk again

Remove and discard lemon zest and incorporate milk into egg-sugar mixture little by little.

Place custard over medium heat and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until custard begins to thicken and reaches desired consistency, about 2 and 1/2 minutes.

Immediately transfer to a glass or ceramic bowl or to individual bowls.

Let cool to room temperature and sprinkle some ground cinnamon when ready to eat.


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