When planning my holiday menus, I like to serve new dishes, but still not spend the entire day slaving away in the kitchen. This year, I’m preparing a herb crusted rib roast with potato latkes, whole roasted spiced cauliflower, garlic cheesy pull apart bread, honey mustard Brussels sprouts and, for the perfect ending, caramelized torija. Caramelized torija is a dessert that is served at the one and only Degustation in New York. Now, I’ve never actually dined at this restaurant, but I saw a snippet of what they serve on the Food Network and became instantly curious about this dessert. After giving it a try, boy am I glad I did because it is de-licious! Easy to prepare and sure to be a crowd-pleaser, a win-win in my book.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Caramelized torija is essentially french toast. For both french toast and the torija, you have to soak the bread in a milk mixture and cook on the pan. With the dessert, you go one step further and caramelize the bread either with a blow torch or under the broiler.
If I recall correctly, Degustation uses heavy cream to soak the brioche, but I decided to use a mixture of coconut milk and heavy cream. Do not use more liquid than stated in the recipe. I’ve tested it making one batch with the amount listed and another with enough liquid to completely cover the bread. The batch with more liquid ended up being too soggy and didn’t hold together as well when cooked.
When the recipe lists “peel of grapefruit, lemon, and lime,” it means just that. Use a peeler, not a zester, and peel the fruits. Usually, recipes call for the zest of a lemon, but this time we want the actual peel.
I’ll be honest, I overcrowded my pan just a bit when searing the brioche. Leave space in between to make it easier to flip the bread without squishing the other pieces. Let the bread really brown before flipping.
The optimum tool to use to finish the brioche would be a blow torch but if you don’t own one, use your broiler instead. Just make sure to keep a close eye on the brioche so that the sugar doesn’t burn.
Bite into the caramelized torija while warm and try not to eat the whole batch! The outside is a little crunchy from the caramelized sugar while the inside is oh so creamy. The coconut and citrus flavor is faint but present. These are best served fresh but can still be enjoyed the next day heated up. I can’t wait to show these off to my family with a little side of ice cream!
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