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  Leche Frita – Spanish Fried Milk Custard

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So, how can you take a rich, ultra-thick creamy milk custard and make it even better? Slice it, coat it with sweetened breadcrumbs and well, fry it until crispy and golden. The result, a melting concoction of creamy goodness.

The custard for this leche frita (which is Spanish for fried milk) is thickened by a roux and enriched with the yolks of large eggs and warm milk and cream that have been infused with lemon, cinnamon and vanilla. Chill the custard for 2-hours or up to 2 days so it is quite firm, then cut and fry in hot oil.

For the custard:
3 cups skim milk
½ cup heavy cream
2-3 strips of lemon zest
1, 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup butter
¾ cup flour
6 egg yolks
½ cup sugar

For frying:
Olive oil (not extra virgin) or Vegetable Oil
½ cup plain flour
1 egg, whisked
1 cup of plain breadcrumbs (optionally sweetened with 1 tbs of sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon)

Warm milk and cream in a saucepan with the lemon peel, cinnamon stick and vanilla over medium-low heat. Do not let it boil, but just let it come gently to a simmer.  Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour, stirring constantly so that is creamy and cooking for about 5 minutes until slightly thick and golden (this is your roux). 

Take the roux off of the heat and whisk in the warm milk/cream (with out the lemon peel and cinnamon stick) into the roux.  In a separate heatproof bowl or measuring pitcher, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until lemon-colored and smooth.  Then whisk a bit of the egg mixture into the warm milk and roux mixture a bit at a time (so that you don’t scramble the eggs).  After the custard mixture is fully combined (the warm milk/cream, roux and eggs) – return to medium-low heat and stir constantly (spoon works best) and heat until it just starts to make big, gassy bubbles.

Line a non-stick, 8 or 9-inch square cake pan with a piece of wax paper, spread and smooth the custard into the pan and top with another piece of wax paper. Let cool until just warm on a cooling rack and then place in the refrigerator until completely cooled.

After 2-hours, or up to two days, remove the custard from the refrigerator, remove the top layer of wax paper and slice into 9 or 12 pieces. Meanwhile, heat oil in a deep skillet until hot. Dip the custard piece in a bit of flour, then the whisked egg and finally the breadcrumbs.  Place gently into the hot oil and spoon hot oil over the top to brown all sides. Once done to your desired ‘golden-ess’, gently transfer to a paper plate lined with paper towels to let the oil drain a bit (you can also blot the top gently).

To serve, place on a plate and sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar or cinnamon-sugar and serve with chocolate sauce, honey, fresh fruit, etc.

Yields 9-12 squares.

Copyright 2008.