Recipe: Burnt Sugar Saffron Baked Custard

This month we collaborated with Nik Sharma from A Brown Table to create a new recipe with Tahmina saffron. From his mother’s kitchen to starting his own blog and being a pastry chef in the SF Bay Area, Nik’s experimental and bold nature earns us a variety of exciting and delicious recipes. His recipe for this burnt sugar saffron-infused custard will be a refreshing cold treat on a summer day, or a cozy dessert when served fresh out of the oven. We know you’ll love this delectable treat!

Burnt Sugar, Saffron Baked Custard

(Recipe and photos by Nik Sharma, A Brown Table)

Serves: 4 

Ingredients 

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 20 saffron strand.
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 Tbsp sugar + 2 Tbsp
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch 

Preheat the oven to 325F. 

Reserve 4 Tbsp of the milk in a small bowl and keep aside. 

Grind the saffron strands with a mortar and pestle. Add 2 Tbsp of the reserved milk and mix to extract. Keep the liquid aside. 

Add the remaining milk to a medium thick heavy bottom saucepan with the cream, 3 Tbsp sugar, saffron-milk mixture, and cardamom. Bring it to a rolling boil on high heat and immediately reduce heat to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. 

In a small bowl, add the yolks and add 1/4 cup of the warm milk mixture to it slowly and then lightly whisk to combine to help temper the yolks. Add the tempered yolk mixture to the milk mixture in the saucepan and whisking aggressively to combine. Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a silicone spatula until the mixture starts to slightly thicken.

Mix the remaining reserved 2 Tbsp of milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl and then whisk it into the saucepan and continue to cook for about 1 to 2 minutes until thick. The custard is done when the back of your spoon is coated and your finger leaves a trail when it's run through. Strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any cooked egg bits and then transfer the custard to a baking dish. 

Prepare a water bath by placing a wire rack in a  large deep baking pan or dish (larger than the custard dish), place the baking dish with the custard over the rack. Fill the sides with boiling water to about half the height of the custard pan. Transfer the entire arrangement to the preheated oven and bake for about 45 to 50 minutes until the custard is just set and jiggles slightly in the center. Open the oven and sprinkle the remaining 2 Tbsp of sugar on the surface, switch the oven dial to broil and cook until the sugar starts to burn and caramelize in about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. You can also do this with a torch (if you own one), simply remove the custard from the oven once it is set and then sprinkle the sugar and burn it using the torch. You can serve the custard immediately or refrigerate to chill.