Last week’s Peruvian dinner ended with a Peruvian dessert: leche asada, which means roasted milk. I grew up eating this dessert without thinking about its origin, but now I’m sure that it’s the poor people’s version of crème brûlée.
There was a shop a couple hundred metres away from my parents’ house where we used to buy things like cookies and soft drinks. They also sold a few homemade sweets, one of them was leche asada. I loved breaking its “lid” (the crust on top) with my spoon and emptying its creamy contents, leaving the crust until the end.
Over the years I’ve eaten my share of this popular and inexpensive dessert. Alvaro and I found the best one ever in Canta, a town in the highlands of Lima, where the top quality milk makes a world of difference. When we were there, a leche asada costed 1 nuevo sol (a third of an Australian dollar), so we had quite a few for dinner every day.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: use the best milk you can get. This time I used the same non-lactose milk we’ve been drinking since we arrived because it’s easier on the stomach, but next time I’ll try with an organic, non-homogenized milk. I already know it’ll taste heaps better.
Now that I’m renting an apartment with an old basic electric stove I was a bit afraid of achieving a good crust. Luckily, the stove exceeded my expectations and I didn’t have to chuck the desserts in the bin.
Yield: 10 servings
Translated and slightly adapted from Rincón repostero
1 litre milk
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
Preheat oven to 160ºC.
Line a large baking dish with newspaper. Place containers (ramekins, Pyrex dessert cups or foil cups) on top of the newspaper.
Heat milk, sugar and vanilla essence in pot over low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved, without letting the milk boil.
Whisk eggs lightly.
Pour a bit of milk on the eggs and keep whisking. Keep pouring bit by bit (to avoid eggs from curdling) and whisking.
Boil a kettle full of water.
Using a large spoon, pour mixture into the containers.
Place dish in oven and pour boiling water in it until it reaches half of the height of the containers.
Bake for 45 minutes or until set.
Place containers on a tray and place under broiler for 5 to 10 minutes, until you can see a brown crust on the surface.