This recipe didn’t come out quite as I’d expected. You see, I thought this was my first opportunity with The Clara Project to experiment with a gelatin mold; I even purchased a vintage copper mold just for such an occasion.
But when I unmolded this creamy vanilla dessert, enticingly called Spanish Cream, it was a disaster; the contents sort of disintegrated onto the plate. No matter: Lesson learned, I still consider this dessert recipe a success.
As it happens, Spanish Cream is sort of like an unbaked vanilla soufflé: wonderfully light and fluffy, lightly sweet, perfect for summer’s freshest berries. It’s really too soft to mold like a Jell-o dessert. Instead, it’s best to transfer the vanilla custard mixture to a pretty serving bowl and, once it’s set, to scoop out big spoonfuls into individual dessert dishes.
Spanish Cream is a definitively old-fashioned dessert, elegant but not at all fussy. It’s made in two steps, with a cooked vanilla custard that’s thickened with gelatin, then whisked into whipped egg whites. Give it a whirl, and let me know what you think!
spanish cream dessert recipe
1 Tbsp. powdered gelatin
3 cups whole milk
3 eggs, separated
Scant 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
Fresh berries tossed with sugar, for serving
Have ready a large bowl filled with ice cubes and water. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large bowl. Place the egg yolks in the top of a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl; give them a stir with a whisk. Add water to the bottom of the double boiler or to a saucepan large enough that your heat-proof bowl will rest in it (not touching the bottom).
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the gelatin and milk. Place the pan over medium heat and warm the mixture until the gelatin is dissolved and the milk bubbles (but does not boil), about 5 minutes. Whisk in the sugar VERY slowly whisk the warm milk into the egg yolks. Place the bowl or pan with the egg yolk mixture over the pan of simmering water and cook, whisking frequently, until the mixture turns a pale golden color and thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and salt. Place the bowl (or double boiler pan) in the ice bath to quickly cool the mixture, whisking occasionally as it sets. Cool for about 1 hour (refrigeration will speed the process), until the mixture resembles a soft pudding.
Use the stand mixer or a hand-held mixer to whip the egg whites to firm peaks. Gently fold about 1/3 of the cooled custard mixture into the egg whites, then fold in the remaining egg whites, stirring gently to fully combine the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate, preferably overnight, until the Spanish Cream is softly set. Portion into individual serving bowls and top with sugared fresh berries.