Caramelized Milk Custard: Leche Quemada

articles Food & Cuisine Recipes

Karen Hursh Graber

This stovetop custard is not as thick as one baked in the oven. It is no longer necessary to use a flaming wooden paddle to caramelize the surface, a process that can be successfully carried out using a small butane kitchen torch, sometimes called a crème brulee torch.


  • ½ quart whole milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • light brown sugar for ¼” layer of topping


In the top of a double boiler, scald the milk. Add the sugar, salt and cornstarch and stir to dissolve. Add the eggs and stir constantly until the custard thickens. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon to release the steam. Add the cinnamon. Place the custard in a baking dish or individual heatproof custard cups. Spread ¼” layer of light brown sugar on the top surface and caramelize, following the directions with the butane torch. Alternatively, the chilled custard can be placed under a hot broiler just long enough to caramelize the sugar topping. If the broiler method is used instead of a kitchen torch, the custard must be very well chilled before placing under the broiler. Serves 4.

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Published or Updated on: January 1, 2005 by Karen Hursh Graber © 2008
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