This post is dedicated to my grandmother-my dad's mom, as it is her version of making this popular dessert. Caramel custard is a well-known, easy-to-make recipe, which almost all of us would have had, at one point in our lives or other! While other caramel custard recipes normally have just milk, eggs and sugar as their basic ingredients, this one has other goodies like honey and cream as well, which makes it all the more delicious!
I made this dessert-with her recipe-for the first time today and admit I was feeling nostalgic and missed her while making it. She was someone who loved trying out new recipes and was a culinary expert herself. Even though she lived in a time when there was abundant domestic and kitchen help, she herself not only cooked but also micromanaged the kitchen, overseeing things so that delicious food was always prepared for the family. I remember that right to the end of her lifetime, she used to watch cookery shows on TV, read recipes from magazines, note them down, try them out, and share them with us. No wonder my dad and all his brothers and sisters are such foodies!
My grandmother used to have a recipe diary of her own, one that she started in 1960 (at least, I remember that the diary was a 1960 one, with a hardbound dark blue cover). I have copied many recipes from her book to mine, and this is one of them. This recipe book of hers was a treasuretrove of recipes from curries to pies, bakes to desserts, tandoori to Chinese, duck to drumstick!
Since this post is dedicated to my grandmom, a word (or paragraph!) about her-She definitely was not the traditional grandmother! She was a petite, elegant lady whose frame belied the strength she had. She was definitely not the docile, old-fashioned type. She had a mind of her own, was strong-willed, convent-educated to the 10th grade (Sacred Heart Convent, Tellicherry), spoke and wrote English beautifully, an avid watcher of The Bold and the Beautiful :-), witty and bright! She loved the arts, from music and movies, dance and fashion, and loved animals and gardening. She may not have been easy to handle, but she sure is unforgettable!
Now, onto her recipe:
- Milk 500 mL
- Sugar 4 tablespoons
- Cream 3/4th cup
- Honey 1/2 cup
- Eggs 4
- Vanilla Essence To taste
- Nutmeg powder To taste (this is optional).
For the Caramel Sauce:
- Sugar 5 to 6 tablespoons
- Butter 1 teaspoon
- First grease the dish in which you plan to steam this.
- Boil the milk first. Keep aside till lukewarm.
- Stir in the sugar, cream, and honey.
- Transfer again to the stove and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Keep aside to cool.
- Beat the eggs lightly.
- When the milk mixture is totally cooled, add in the eggs, vanilla essence and nutmeg powder. Mix well.
- Transfer this once again to the stove and simmer for another 2 minutes. Keep aside.
Meanwhile, to make the caramel sauce:
- Heat a nonstick pan.
- Lower the heat and put in the sugar.
- Add the butter.
- Do not stir with a spoon. The trick I have learnt to caramelize sugar is never to stir with a spoon and keep it on the lowest flame. Just tilt the pan with the handle and shake lightly every once in a while. Wait patiently. The sugar will caramelize without any help from you.
- As soon as the sugar granules have disappeared and it takes on a nice dark brown tinge, pour onto the greased dish.
- Pour the prepared milk mixture on top. Don't worry if some of the caramelized sugar rises to the top.
- Place this dish, covered with aluminum foil, in a steamer pot and steam for 45 minutes.
- Serve as it is or serve upturned onto a dessert plate.
I made the mistake of steaming this in a deep dish. It is always better to do it in a flat dish.
You could also steam this in ramekins or individual custard moulds.
In the recipe book, she states that it can also be baked, but as usual, no instructions were written down for that. I think my grandmom assumed that anyone would have the commonsense to know the temperature and timings. I don't have a clue about that though, so stuck to the safer option of steaming (which is how it is generally made, but even for this, no timings were given in the book!).