Food + Drink Recipes Spain

Recipe: Gluten-free crema catalana with saffron

August 14, 2016

An exotic, gluten-free twist on the traditional Catalan dessert. 

This recipe was introduced to me by chef Montse Freixa, whose Restuarant El Castell is situated in tiny, rural town in Les Garrigues. I met Montse as part of my culinary adventure through Catalonia with World Nomad’s Passport to Plate scholarship.

It’s a gluten-free and lactose-free version of the region’s famous crema catalana made with soy milk. I particularly love the silky texture created by the soy and the unusual addition of saffron makes the dessert even more sumptuous. Chef Montse served her crema catalana with homemade cardamon cookies. This recipe makes 6-8 servings.


1 L soy milk

60g cornstarch

8 egg yolks

125g sugar

1 pinch salt


1 cinnamon stick

1 lemon (peel)

saffron threads to taste

100 g brown sugar

25gr toasted almonds (peeled)


  1. Dilute cornstarch with a bit of milk in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. In another bowl, pour the rest of the milk and add the cinnamon stick, lemon peel, saffron threads and salt. Leave to infuse.
  3. Beat the egg yolks with sugar until you have a pale yellow and slightly thicker mixture. Set aside.
  4. Once the milk has infused, remove the cinnamon stick and the lemon peel. Add the egg mixture to the milk and stir.
  5. Slowly heat the mixture in a saucepan over low heat, constantly stirring. Continue until you have a a light cream texture. Be careful not to let it boil.
  6. Pour the cream into ramekins and let the mixture cool before you refrigerate them.
  7.  Start making traditional candy coating by melting brown sugar in a saucepan. When still hot, mix in the toasted almonds and spread the mixture over a silicone mat.
  8. Let the caramel mixture cool in the freezer for 5 minutes and then grind it to powder in the blender. Sprinkle this powder over the crema catalana before serving. The powdered almond may be used cold or at room temperature.


crema catalana 2


Special thanks to chef Montse Freixa from Restaurant El Castell, Ari from Olea Soul Tourism and Catalunya Experience.

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