A traditional Mexican dessert, Jericalla is an elegant custard — a cross between flan and crème brûlée — that's deceptively easy to make. It is a legendary dish, but the origin is uncertain. Some believe it's a dessert that comes from the Colombian town of Jericó, others think it's from the Spanish town of Jérica. But the most elaborate and interesting story is about a Spanish nun who worked in an orphanage in Guadalajara Mexico. As the tale goes, the children she looked after were undernourished. For a restorative, the nun blended and cooked milk, eggs, and sugar to form a custard. In a kitchen mishap, she burned the custard and, unfazed, the children ate the burnt custard and liked it. Apparently, others liked it enough to cook it into everlasting fame…
For Jalisco Jericalla, or La Jericalla, the custard ingredients are combined over heat and then poured into flan ramekins or individual molds, and cooked in a water bath until golden. Creamy and light in texture, the rich caramelized flavors of this Guadalajara-style custard are the perfect sweet notes to end a meal. But so you don't have any kitchen mishaps of your own, here are a few tips to get it right.
Classic Vanilla Vs Mexican Vanilla
Mexican vanilla is different than other types of vanilla, such as Tahitian or Bourbon. The beans have a sweet flavor with a hint of spice, similar to nutmeg or clove. Mexican vanilla pods are thicker than other types and are typically darker and richer. It has a smooth, creamy flavor, with a strong, delicious fragrance. For a good vanilla extract, make sure it is actually an extract and has vanilla bean listed in the ingredients. Vanilla flavor and vanilla extract are two different things. Vanilla flavor includes propylene glycol or glycerine and is made without alcohol.
Using A Bain-Marie
A bain-marie, or baño maría in Spanish, is essentially a water bath. It's a method used to cook dishes using indirect heat. There are special bain-marie machines used in restaurants, but they can easily be MacGyvered at home. In the case of Jericalla, you would fill ramekins with the uncooked custard and place them in a shallow pan and then add water to the pan. Everything is then placed in the oven to gently cook the custard.
Use Mexican ingredients: As we mentioned, if you have Mexican vanilla and cinnamon on hand, you're better off using them. However, if you don't have them and aren't up to finding them for this recipes, you can go ahead with the vanilla and cinnamon you have in your cupboard. You'll still get a delicious flavor, it will just be milder.
Understand tempering: When you're whisking the hot milk mixture into the egg, you are "tempering" the egg. Basically, you're very gradually pre-cooking the egg so it doesn't scramble and it will hold its texture when it's cooked a second time to set it.
Brown the top: To lightly burn the top of the Jericalla, raise the heat in the final few minutes, or place under the broiler for about a minute until the tops burn slightly. You can also use a crème brûlée torch if you have one.
Spike with brandy: Feel free to lace your Jericalla with brandy or rum for added depth and flavor. Simply add a few spoonfuls to your Jericalla custard before baking.
Make them mini: Vary the sizes of your custards by using miniature molds or ramekins.
Add toppings: While you can easily enjoy this custard on its own, feel free to add toppings such as chopped nuts—walnuts or almonds would be delicious. You could also top it with dried fruits like raisins or pureed fruit. Adding fresh whipped cream could be a great way to top off this dish as well.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, add a drizzle of water over medium heat.
- Then add the milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.