Burnt Cream Ice Cream (Gelat de Crema Catalana)
This simple transformation of an old Catalan dessert—which some culinary scholars maintain was the ancestor of France’s related crème brûlée—became one of Josep Mercader’s most imitated dishes.
- 4 cups half-and-half
- Strips of zest of 1 lemon
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 6 egg yolks
- 1 1⁄2 cups sugar
- 1 tsp. butter, softened
- 8 carquinyolis (Catalan biscotti) optiona
- Put half-and-half, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick into a heavy medium pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Strain into a large bowl, discarding solids, and set aside, stirring often with a wooden spoon, to let cool completely.
- Whisk egg yolks and 1⁄2 cup of the sugar together in a large mixing bowl until thick and pale yellow, then whisk in cooled infused half-and-half. Transfer to a heavy medium pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with the wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 25-30 minutes. Strain custard into a large bowl and set aside, stirring frequently, to let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.
- Meanwhile, grease a medium sheet pan with butter and set aside. Put remaining sugar and 4 tbsp. warm water into a small heavy pot and simmer over medium-low heat, swirling pot over heat frequently, until sugar caramelizes, about 25 minutes. Immediately pour syrup onto prepared sheet pan and tilt pan around, spreading syrup out to a thin layer. Set aside to let cool. Crack caramel into small pieces and stir into cooled custard . Process in an ice cream maker according to a manufacturer’s directions. Serve with carquinyolis, if you like.