Natilla de Cumpleaños
Natilla conjures up images of my Abuela’s kitchen and nights where my Cuban family would linger at the table hours past dinner was over, chatting away and slurping up this creamy treat. Two things we’re great at: talking and eating. Especially when it’s something sweet!
It’s something that feels so old world cooking and decadent but in reality is quite simple to make. I bet you have the ingredients in your kitchen right now! And there’s something so unassumingly dreamy about that combo of milk, citrus and cinnamon. It’s rich and creamy yet fruity and light. Writing about it has me thinking about the leftovers downstairs…
But back to the point. It’s delicious and easy and festive! The perfect treat for my birthday dinner!
1 liter of milk (I used 2%)
1 large piece of lemon rind
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar (I reduced this to 1 cup)
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine the milk, lemon rind, cinnamon and salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Let cool. Mix the cold water and cornstarch until dissolved. In a separate medium to large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and the cornstarch mixture. Add in the milk and mix until blended. Pour back into the pot and cook on medium heat, stirring constantly until a pudding consistency. You will be stirring and then from one second to the next it changes from liquid to a thicker pudding texture. This is what my family calls “el punto.” Once you reach el punto, take the pot off the burner and continue mixing for another minute or so.
When it comes to serving the Natilla, it is up to your discretion. We chose to serve ours in individual dishes and make little parfaits. My Abuela always lays out lady fingers in a glass pan and pours the natilla over them and leaves them to soak. Whatever floats your boat!
Recipe source: Cocina al Minuto by Nitza Villapol (the blue version with an hourglass on the cover)
This book is a staple in my house. It’s kind of the Cuban version of Julia Childs’ “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” And it is in Spanish. There is an english version, though I’ve been told it is hard to come by. My suggestion would be, use a Spanish/English dictionary and take a stab at it!