In Which a Classic Dessert Gets a Scottish Twist..

Believe me when I say this dessert was a bloody headache and a half to make...

Believe me when I say this dessert was a bloody headache and a half to make…literally.

11:00 PM on Black Saturday.  I’m on the phone with a friend.  I am running a fairly high fever.  My throat hurts.  I’m starting to cough.  But I can’t sleep…well, not just yet anyway.

“You don’t sound too good,” my friend tells me, a note of worry creeping into his voice.  “We can talk about this on Monday.  Go to bed.”

“I can’t,” I reply.  “Well, not yet.”

“Not yet?”

“I’ve got something cooking in the kitchen…”  I cough and ruefully add that I am in the kitchen as we speak.  “It’s already in the oven and I can’t leave it till it’s done.”

“Wait…what?  What are you baking this time?!

A bit of a back-story here: this is the friend who performs every Monday at a cosy little bar in Makati.  This is the friend for whom I baked a loaf of bread for a Christmas present; the same friend whom I usually end up baking Madeleines for.  Also the friend for whom I made a truly evil batch of homemade peanut butter cups (recipe for which may never be disclosed via this blog because the decadent little bastards truly were wicked and delicious) for Beatles Night at the Boiler Room.  (Long story…)  We annoy each other from time to time, but we stay friends anyway.

And so, to continue here, I reminded him that I promised two other friends of ours that I would make leche flan – aka creme caramel – for Easter.  Only, this one would have a grown-up twist as it would have whiskey blended into the custard.  The original plan was to use an American whiskey: proper Bourbon, say Southern Comfort or Jack Daniels.  As luck would have it, there was no Bourbon to be had for love or money in any of my usual haunts before Holy Week.  (A divine sign, perhaps?  Oh, dear…)  So, what’s a determined home-cook to do?

Why, use scotch, of course!  Besides, I’m a bigger fan of the malty, peat-smoke taste of Scots whiskies than I am of what the Yanks produce.  (A difference in taste between me and the friend, one on which we agree to disagree.)

The end result of staying up so late: a creme caramel that was both rich, boozy, and totally decadent.  However.  it isn’t exactly something I’d do on a regular basis.  (Do you know how maddening it is to set up a bloody water bath / bain marie?  Or how nerve-wracking it is to check on the caramel?!?)

Nevertheless, it was pretty good: the malty character of the whiskey went beautifully with the egginess of the custard.  Plus, the fact that I threw in proper vanilla from a pod added another dimension of flavour to the dessert.

Try it for yourself and let me know in the comments how yours went.  🙂

Scotch Creme Caramel

  • 1-1/3 cups granulated white sugar
    2/3 cup water
    1-1/2 cups milk
    370mL all-purpose cream
    1/3 cup Scotch
    4 eggs, plus 8 egg yolks, extra
    additional 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out and pod reserved
Preheat oven to 300°F / Gas Mark 2.  Place the sugar and water in a saucepan over high heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Bring to the boil and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the mixture is amber-coloured.  Pour into four flaneras [custard moulds]; set aside for 5 minutes or until the caramel is set.
Place the milk, cream, Scotch, and the scraped vanilla pod in a saucepan over medium heat until it just comes to the boil.  Remove from heat.  Place eggs, extra yolks, extra sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds in a bowl and whisk until well combined.  Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking to combine.  Strain the mixture and pour into the prepared flaneras.
Set the flaneras in a larger baking pan; fill the pan with enough hot water to reach half the height of the flaneras.  Bake for 40 minutes or until set.  Remove from the dish and refrigerate for 4 hours or until cold.  Turn out onto a plate to serve.