Parsis love a good custard, and growing up in Australia, my family and I loved a good crème caramel or ‘Aapru Caramel Custard’ as its affectionately known amongst the Bawas.
Both my husband and myself have fond memories of Caramel Custard growing up. My parents ran a milk delivery company when we were in primary school, and used to sell a local brand of caramel custard which my brother, myself and friends would devour some days as an after school treat.
On the other hand, my husband remembers being bored one afternoon as a teenager (he didn’t have his driver’s licence back then) and whipping up some custards from scratch for a tea-time treat. When his mum came back home she tried one of her son’s treats and thought it was so good that she forbid him from eating them as she had guests over the next day and wanted to serve it to them.
Now that I have children of my own, I love making this easy dessert for my family, and I am delighted to share my recipe with you all. I have however tweaked our original recipe to put a Parsi spin on the traditional crème caramel. The addition of rose water in the caramel, nutmeg & cardamom powder in the custard, and topping of crushed nuts creates a delicious single serve dessert you, your family and guests will love.
So without further ado, let’s get started – ingredients at the bottom of the post as always.
Firstly, lightly grease the sides of six standard sized ramekins with butter. Place the ramekins into a baking dish with a small hand towel on the bottom to stop the ramekins sliding around when going in and out of the oven.
Now, to make the syrup, put the caster sugar and rose water in a saucepan (if you don’t have/like rose water, you can use filtered water instead). Bring to the boil on medium heat (this can take 3-5 minutes), stirring to dissolve the sugar. Immediately lower the temperature and simmer on very low heat without stirring for 20-30 minutes. You can boil on higher heat, but I find having the patience creates a consistent syrup each time without burning the sugar (which adds a terribly bitter taste at the end – not good!).
The syrup will bubble, reduce and darken to a light caramel colour by this point.
Be very careful and watch the syrup closely over the next 5 minutes while it turns to a dark golden-brown syrup.
Once this point is reached, quickly pour the syrup evenly into the 6 ramekins. Swirl each ramekin gently to coat the bottom evenly. Leave these to cool while you make the custard.
Preheat your oven to 160°C. Put the milk, cream, vanilla and cardamom into a saucepan and stir to combine. Bring to the boil on medium heat, and as soon as the mixture starts to boil, shut the heat, stir and leave to cool slightly. Then, beat the eggs and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl for a minute or two by hand with a whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Then slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs, whisking briskly until all has been poured in.
Strain the mixture to remove any large bits of powder or egg that have not dissolved properly. Pour the custard mixture evenly into the 6 ramekins, straight on top of the hardened syrup. Fill up a kettle and boil some water. Pour the water into the baking dish until the water level reaches a point half way up the ramekins. This creates a water bath which will help to evenly cook the custards while stopping them from burning.
Place the baking tray with ramekins into the middle of the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until lightly browned and springy if you touch the top. Remove the baking tray from the oven, and remove the ramekins carefully from the hot water. Leave to cool at room temperature for an hour. Transfer to the fridge and cool completely for 4-6 hours.
To serve, run a knife around the sides of the ramekins to loosen the custard. Turn each ramekin carefully upside down onto a serving plate and lift the ramekin off to reveal a beautiful custard with golden syrup cascading over the top and sides. Top with crushed nuts if desired and serve immediately!
To make enough for six you will need:
For the syrup:
¾ cup caster sugar
¼ cup rose water (or water)
For the custard:
¼ cup caster sugar (for those who like it sweeter, you can add ½ a cup)
300ml thickened cream
300ml full cream milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp nutmeg and cardamom powder
Handful of crushed almonds/pistachios for serving
If reading is not your thing and you’d like to follow a video, head to the Good Parsi Wife’s You Tube Channel and check out the video here.