Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Leche Frita (Fried Milk)

Leche Frita literally translates into "Fried Milk", leche meaning milk, and frita meaning fried.

This dessert is basically squares of fried milk custard or pudding, in my recipe the custard is infused with cinnamon, citrus, and sometimes vanilla, cut into squares, coated in flour and egg then deep or pan-fried tossed in cinnamon sugar.

A lot of people seem intimidated and think this is hard to make, they are very scared of the custard being to soft and breaking, but trust me if you follow my recipe it's super easy and you should be fine :)

Ingredients for custard:
-4 cups milk
-3/4 cup sugar
-1 cinnamon stick
-1 lemon only the zest
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
-8 tablespoons cornstarch
-1/2 and 2 tablespoons water (more or less)

Ingredients for coating:
-flour as needed (enough to coat custard squares)
-2 beaten eggs

Ingredients for cinnamon sugar dusting:
-1/2 cup white cane sugar
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions for custard:
(1) Heat milk, sugar, cinnamon, and lemon zest on medium high heat, stir occasionally. When it bubbles and comes to boil lower heat to low and allow to simmer 5- 10 minutes.
(2) While milk is simmering in a bowl add 8 tablespoons cornstarch, and dissolve in water set aside.
(3) When milk mixture has simmered 5- 10 minutes, remove cinnamon stick and higher heat to medium high, give a quick stir with a fork to the cornstarch water mixture and whisk it in with a whisk of course, stiring constantly and fast until it begins to thicken and bubbles.
(4) Remove from heat and quickly put into a glass dish, allow to cool and refrigerate at least 4- 6 hours until cold and firm.
(5) Get everything ready, for the frying process, start heating a large pan with enough oil to deep-fry or pan0fry custard squares heat the pan on medium for now so your oil won't burn while prepping, then in one plate put flour enough to coat most custard squares, in a bowl beat eggs set aside, in another plate make cinnamon sugar by combining sugar with ground cinnamon, and get a seperate plate with paper towels to drain the oil after you fried your custard. Set everything aside.

(6) When firm, quickly pass the bottom of the glass dish over warm water (in the sink) then remove, cut squares, and gently remove using your fingers careful not to break the squares.
(7) Raise the heat in the pan with oil to high heat, pass squares one at a time, first through flour, then pass it through beaten egg (yes you heard FLOUR first THEN beaten EGG) and add to the how oil.
(8) With a spoon splash oil over or spoon over oil over the custard squares that are frying, carefully with a large wooden spoon and spatula or spider flip them over until golden on all sides.
(9) Remove from oil when golden and browned then allow to drain on paper towels, when cool enough to handle coat in cinnamon sugar carefully being careful not to break it.
(10) Transfer to serving plate, allow to cool before eating, I like it at room temperature but think leftovers in the fridge are even better :)
(1) The making of the custard can be made 1 day in advance if you want to then the day of serving you can do the whole frying part

(2) You can flavor it however you want, you can use grated lime zest or orange zest instead of lemon.

(3) You can skip the cinnamon sugar and only coat in sugar, or dust with powdered sugar, or heck I've seen people drizzle it with chocolate syrup, or types of fruit syrups when serving.

(4) To make the custard richer some people beat 5 egg yolks with the cornstarch and use only milk to dilute the cornstarch instead of water, in addition when heating the milk they like to add 1 stick of butter for even more richness or omit the egg yolks and use only butter. I personally DO NOT l feel like adding egg yolks and butter, I think it's not necessary, the custard squares are already coated in flour and egg, plus fried in oil anyways...

I only add egg yolks and butter when making "Natilla" (a type of Spanish custard similar to this one, it's like a pudding, more soft and uses less cornstarch) or I use it when making "Crema Catalana" (another type of Spanish custard translates to "Catalan Cream" which is a soft milk pudding with a hard sugar crust on top)