Because of its crisp, caramelized topping, this creamy Catalan dessert is often compared to the French crème brûlée. Sweet Catalan cream, however, is not as heavy or rich as its French cousin, and thus makes a more pleasant ending to a heavy paella dinner.
In a saucepan, bring the milk, the cinnamon stick, lemon rind, and vanilla extract to a boil. Simmer for several minutes the discard the cinnamon stick and lemon rind. Set the flavored milk aside.
In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks together with the cornstarch and 3/4 cup (5 oz) of the sugar until the mixture is creamy. Gradually pour this mixture into the saucepan with the milk, mixing continuously.
Slowly heat the mixture until it begins to thicken, taking care that the mixture does not boil. Pour into four shallow heatproof serving dishes, allow to cool, and refrigerate for several hours.
Immediately before serving, preheat the broiler and scatter the remaining sugar evenly over each serving. Place the dishes under the broiler until the sugar topping begins to caramelize. Remove from the broiler and serve.
Catalonia Recipes: As with nearly all cultures, Catalonian cooking has great character. Its innovative cooking often looking back to history for inspiration. Although ultimately Mediterranean, Catalonia has been influenced by various cultures over the centuries: the Greeks, Romans, the Italians in the eighteenth century and the French have all left their mark on this complex cuisine. Catalonia has absorbed the best of each country and created a culinary package which forms part of the popular wisdom of the region.