Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cardamom crème caramel

Simple, sweet and soothing, this is like a favourite childhood dessert, though not one from my childhood. We were more likely to have baked rice pudding or stovetop tapioca pudding, both of which I also love. This is my first foray into baking after yet another illness. It seems that I have caught every bug going around this winter. I visit many elementary schools, so I have plenty of opportunities to pick up germs, but this is getting ridiculous. This time it was a fever that stole my entire weekend, keeping me in bed for all but a few hours over 3 days. Once I woke up and started eating again I ate toast and tea, along with rice and orange juice. French toast was the next step, and today, I decided that I was ready for some dessert. Tomorrow it's back to germ warfare, sadly.
This recipe is from a wonderful book called My Bombay Kitchen, by Niloufer Ichaporia King. All the recipes sound delicious, but I haven't gotten any further than the desserts chapter. It might as well be called the cardamom chapter, as it is full of amazing-sounding sweets, spiced with that fragrant green pod. More on those other recipes later, but now I think you need to get yourself into the kitchen to make this. I used egg yolks rather than whole eggs, giving me a silky, pale yellow custard with the sharp flavour of very fresh cardamom. Don't even think about using pre-ground cardamom: you won't get any appreciable flavour from it.

Cardamom caramel custard
From My Bombay Kitchen, by Niloufer Ichaporia King
⅓ cup plus ½ cup sugar
2 cups half-and-half (I used some half-and-half and some milk)
1½ teaspoons cardamom seeds, pounded in a mortar (measure the sticky black seeds, not the green pods)
4 large eggs (I used 5 yolks and 1 egg)
pinch of salt
  1. Combine ⅓ cup of the sugar, the half-and-half, and the cardamom in a saucepan. Bring to a boil; remove from the heat and set aside for at least an hour to let the cardamom flavour develop. 
  2. To make the caramel: over medium heat, stir together the remaining ½ cup sugar in a small heavy saucepan with 2 tablespoons water until it melts. Keep stirring until it darkens to dark brown (I don't like my caramel that dark, so pull it off the heat when it's a dark amber). Add a splash of water and quickly pour into a 4-cup baking dish, or into 6 small (½ cup) ramekins. Set them aside until you're ready to make the custard.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350℉. (I went with 300℉, as I prefer a lower temperature for baked custards)
  4. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt, and continue whisking as you pour in the cardamom-infused cream. Strain it into the caramel-lined dish.
  5. Set the baking dish or ramekins into a larger baking dish. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the dish. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 35 minutes, until a knife inserted an inch from the centre still looks wet. The custard will thicken and firm up as it cools. Remove from the water bath.
  6. Cool to room temperature and then chill thoroughly, several hours or overnight. The longer you chill it, the more the caramel will melt into a sauce. Run a knife around the custard and turn it out onto a deep plate.


Anonymous said...

This looks so delicious! Although I don't have the pods, I do have ground cardamom. I wonder if that will be okay...

Brownieville Girl said...

I love cardamon, so this is my idea of dessert perfection!

Hope you are feeling much better.

Anonymous said...

So glad you're feeling better and this looks good too!


Suz said...

Mm, all your food looks so warm and sunny. That creme caramel looks beautiful. I must try it.

Glad you're feeling better. :) Hope the bugs stay away from now on.

Unknown said...

Two of my favourite things to eat - creme caramel and cardomom flavours - mmmmm! Can't wait to try it!

cocoa and coconut said...

I hope you feel better soon. This will no doubt sooth your body. It looks perfect and lush! I need to make this ASAP.

Evelyne CulturEatz said...

Hopefully you will win the next germ warfare. I bet this creme caramel boost up your spirits though. Love the cardamom in it.

Cakelaw said...

Mary, so sorry to hear that you have been in the wars again. Be gone bugs and germs! This is one fine dessert - and I love caramel :) You have made it to the most important chapter of the book - desserts - so that's all that really matters.

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

I can't believe how deliciously beautiful this is... well actually I can! I am constantly in aw by what comes from your kitchen!! Hope you are on the mend!

astheroshe said...

That is beautiful..the texture looks perfect, and i am sure it tastes just as great :)

Faith said...

I'm with you, I've been doing bug warfare too...hope you're feeling better, Mary! The creme caramel is gorgeous and I love the addition of cardamom for a little flair!

Baking Addict said...

creme caramel is one of my favourite desserts but i've never made it myself. What is half and half? Can i substitute vanilla pods for cardamom?

Beth said...

This dessert looks wonderful. Like you, I ate tapioca pudding and rice pudding as a child, and I'm not fond of either. If I'd eaten creme caramel when I was young, I know I would have loved it!

A Canadian Foodie said...

I saw on the news last night that there is a completely new strain of the flu running rampant through the country at this time of the year - so unusual. YOu must have a strain of it. How utterly miserable for you to be so ill one thing after another. I can relate. I have had times like that in my life, and they are very trying. Good for you for pulling yourself out of bed to make yourself a sweet treat... but, isn't anyone there to take care of you? I wish I was closer? It is how it is when the women get sick, isn't it?
Where do you get your green pods? I can every only find the black ones?

Anonymous said...

This sounds perfect with the cardamom, one of my favourite spices.

shebajozef said...

this is quite good....but sad to know that somebody have copied your creation and published in their blog.
here's the link: http://curry-dive.blogspot.in/2012/10/caramel-custard.html

Mary said...

Thank you so much for the heads-up, food critic! I have commented on the offending pst, asking that my photos be removed.