LOVE IT! Crema Catalana – Spain’s Creme Brulee

Two heart ramekins with pressure cooked crema catalana with bruleed sugar top
This Spanish dessert has been adapted to the pressure cooker Bain Marie method and will yield the same results as the original that has to be carefully and constantly stirred over an open flame – without any risk of curdling the eggs or worrying whether this custard will set.

Spain’s Crema Catalana and France’s Creme Brulee are strikingly similar – save a few spices. Just like with the Brulee’ there can be many variations, some with all milk, some with half milk and cream, and some with just cream. In fact, this dessert is a the source of a delicious debate as to which came first and who copied the other.

Typically, this dessert is served in wide, shallow earthenware cazuelas – which maximize the area to caramllize.  It’s tricky, but not impossible to pressure cook these dishes – you can stack and stagger them from each other. Then, the cazuelas are carmellized with a special metal disk that is heated in a fire (or your gas burner).

To save yourself the extra work and need purchase of these containers and items, you can just make this with regular ramekins or cups and with a mini kitchen torch or your broiler to create the delicious caramelized top!

Culinary Torch Usage Tips
I just bought myself an early Christmas present – a culinary torch!  If you’re using one for the first time here are a few tips:

  • Store it up-high in a safe place where kids and guests can’t harm themselves  (where you hid your sharp slicing mandolin is a good spot)
  • Don’t hold the dessert cup while caramellizing – you don’t want to burn your finger and drop the dessert!
  • Don’t caramellize directly on your counter-top otherwise your risk scorching it as well – a metal cookie sheet is a good place to do your food torching.
  • Don’t caramellize on top or near of anything flammable (paper towel, table cloth, wax paper, kitchen curtains, long hair, wicker baskets, etc.)
  • Put the torch away in its safe place immediately after use – they tend to look like a fun toy to kids.

Pressure Cooker Accessories Pr. Cook Time Pr. Level Open
5 L or larger steamer, heat-proof ramekins 5-8 min. Low (1) Natural

Crema Catalana - pressure cooker recipe
Recipe type: pressure cooker
Cuisine: Spanish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 cups or 500ml Fresh Cream
  • 6 egg Yolks
  • 5 tablespoons or 80g White (caster) Sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder)
  • 1 orange, zested (or lemon, or mandarin, or a little bit of each)
For Garnish:
  • few shavings of nutmeg
  • about 4 Tbsp. Raw sugar for caramellizing
Additional Equipment:
  • Vegetable Peeler
  • Small Saucepan
  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Pour able container (about 4-cup capacity measuring cup or small pitcher)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Culinary Torch (optional) or Broiler
  1. Begin by heating up the cream, citrus zest and cinnamon stick on low heat in the small saucepan and stirring occasionally. When the cream begins to boil (foam) turn off the heat and let the ingredients infuse (about 30 minutes).
  2. In the meantime, prepare your pressure cooker by adding two cups of water, and steamer basket. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add the egg yolks and sugar, whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Then, when the cream has cooled to room temperature (it should feel neither hot nor cold when you stick your finger in it) add the yolks and stir with your whisk just enough to get everything mixed together well (do not whip).
  5. Next, pour the mixture slowly through a strainer into a spouted container (if you have one, it will make pouring the mixture into the cups or ramekins easy).
  6. Pour the mixture into ramekins, cover tightly with foil and arrange in the steamer basket so that all are sitting straight (otherwise you will get a crooked diagonal crema).
  7. If you still have some vertical space and extra cups, you can stack the additional cups on top in a second layer.
  8. Close and lock the pressure cooker. Turn the heat up to high and calculate 8 minutes cooking time for ramekins and only 5 minutes cooking time for espresso cups at LOW pressure (the time will vary according to the size and material of the ramekin used)..
  9. When time is up, open the pressure cooker using the Natural Release method - move the cooker to cold burner and don't do anything. Wait for the pressure to come down naturally (about 10 minutes). For electric pressure cookers, cancel or unplug the cooker to disengage the "keep warm" cycle and count 10 minutes of time and then release the rest of the pressure using the valve.
  10. Open the pressure cooker and carefully lift out the custards. Open the first and jiggle it a bit. It should be nearly solid, but not liquid (this means they have set)- they will solidify further when chilled. If they are still very liquid, pressure cook for an additional 5 minutes with the same opening procedure noted above.
  11. Remove the custards and leave to cool uncovered for about 30-45 minutes.
  12. Once the custards are cooled, cover them in plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator to chill for 3-4 hours or overnight.
  13. Before serving, remove the custards from the refrigerator, grate a little nutmeg and sprinkle the top of the custard with a thin, even layer of sugar.
  14. Then, either melt the sugar with a culinary torch or slide them under the broiler in your oven to melt and caramellize the sugar.

  15. Yields 10 Espresso cups, 6 Ramekins or 4-6 cazuelas (depending on their size).