Here is another food that I’ve learned to eat from my Cuban husband. Until I ate Natilla, I did not eat any custards. Maybe in a fruit tart, if they put a little on the bottom. But I could not enjoy the thick puddings and custards I had been raised on. This is less thick, soft, silky and bursting with hints of flavor when it hits your tongue. There have been a few modifications, but the basis for this recipe comes from my mother-in-law, Olga.
For non-Spanish speakers, the pronunciation is “Nah-tee-ya”. Try it over angel food cake with some fresh fruit. My favorite way to eat this is: with a big spoon straight from the bowl.
4 cups milk
8 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla (I also use 1 vanilla bean)
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon ring (you can slice a lemon or just use a few rind slices)
¼ teaspoon salt
Scald milk with cinnamon, vanilla bean (opened and scraped – place seeds and outside of vanilla bean in the milk). Dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Beat egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch mixture. Temper the eggs with the scalded milk (put one tablespoon of the heated milk in the eggs, keep, adding tablespoons size portions until the eggs are very warm). When tempered, add the milk to the eggs and cook at medium heat until thick. Do not cook too fast, and you can have them as thick as you want. I cook them until a spoon dipped in and running your finger across it leaves a space. This is a slow process (about 20 minutes).
Strain it all through a fine sieve when done, and add the teaspoon of vanilla if you are using it.