food for thought

by michelle

tocinillo de cielo + almond and orange florentines

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My good friend Daniel Aguera introduced me to this traditional Spanish dessert. Although similar to a crème caramel, this rich custard is non-dairy and is made with only eggs, sugar and water. In the early 20th century, the wineries of Jerez de Frontera clarified their wines with egg whites. The left-over egg yolks were donated to the local nuns who created this magnificent dessert. The name translates to something like heaven’s little pig (or bacon).

As Spain is known for its almonds and oranges, these incredibly crunchy and delicious almond and orange florentines from Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi made the perfect accompaniment. 

For the custard I slightly adapted Daniel’s recipe. Preheat your oven to 180ºC (350°F). Combine 100g (3½ oz) sugar and 100ml (3½ fl oz) of water in a small saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat until it becomes a deep amber colour. Keep an eagle eye on this caramel as it can burn. Remove it from the heat and quickly pour into the bottom of your baking dish. I used a rectangular dish and layered the caramel for serving. You can also make this in individual ramekins. In another small saucepan combine 300g (10½ oz) of sugar with 250ml (8½ fl oz) of water. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar reaches 105º – 108ºC (220° – 225°F). If you don’t have a thermometer the cooled syrup should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile separate 8 eggs. In a large bowl, whisk the yolks plus 3 more whole eggs. Whisk in the cooled sugar syrup until well combined. Pour the mixture into the baking dish or ramekins. Place the baking dish into a larger dish and pour hot water into the outside dish making sure the water comes up the sides of the dish or ramekins and no water gets into the custard. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the custard is set. You will still see a slight jiggle in the custard when it is cooked. Carefully remove the custard from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, slide a sharp knife around the edge and invert onto a serving dish.

To make the almond and orange florentines lower your oven temperature to 150°C (300°F). Line an oven tray with baking paper and brush with a little oil. In a bowl combine 2 egg whites, 100g (3½ oz) of confectioners’ sugar, 260g (9¼ oz) of sliced almonds and the grated zest of 1 orange. When the ingredients are well mixed wet your hand and place portions of the mix in little mounds on the lined tray, flattening them a little and making sure they have some space between them. Bake for about 12 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through. Allow them to cool completely before removing from the baking tray with a spatula. They will keep for 4-5 days in an air-tight container.

Written by michelle picker

August 14, 2019 at 12:14 am

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