This unbelievably lush dessert was shown to me a few years back by a chef I used to work with. He is a real living dessert guru, his sweets some of the finest that I have tasted. He was also generous enough to let me take this recipe with me.
The process involves mixing semolina into a vanilla bean scented custard and steaming in toffee lined ramekins. When served, they bear more than a passing resemblance to creme caramel, albeit with their own unique texture. It is unlike any sweet that I have cooked before. The recipe involves a bit of work, but they are prepared entirely in advance, making them a perfect dinner party treat. They also have some serious wow factor going on, so if you have guests that you would like to impress, look no further.
Semolina is simply the hard protein component of durum wheat and it is essential to this recipe, other flours will not work. It can be found in good delicatessens. When we had this sweet on the menu at the restaurant it was served with poached quince, but it really needs little in the way of accompaniment, maybe some softly whipped cream and fresh seasonal fruit. Don't forget a glass of sticky dessert wine
150g (5 oz) semolina
500ml (2 cups) cream, 35% fat
700ml (2 3/4 cups) full cream milk
3 free range eggs
150g (5 oz) caster (superfine sugar|superfine) sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla essence)
100 gm (3 ½ oz) caster sugar, extra
Place the cream and milk into a heavy based saucepan. Split the vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds into the cream mixture and throw in the bean as well, or just add the vanilla essence. Add the sugar and gently bring to the simmer, stirring occasionally. Once it has reached the simmer take off the heat and set aside to infuse.
Meanwhile, have ready 12 150 ml (2/3 cup) ramekins and grease them with non-stick spray. Put the extra sugar in a small saucepan with 60 ml (1/4 cup) water. Set on high heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Stop stirring at this stage and let the caramel cook to a golden brown. Taking great care pour a small amount of caramel into the bottom of each ramekin to cover the base. Set aside.
Re-warm the cream mixture, then whisk in the semolina, pouring in a thin stream. Stir for about 30 seconds and when the mixture thickens, pour into a large mixing bowl. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time.
Remove the vanilla bean then whiz the semolina mixture in a blender until completely smooth. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Pour the still warm mix into the ramekins, filling almost to the top. Place the puddings in a steamer, a Chinese bamboo number is perfect for this, and steam gently for 20 minutes.
These puddings are best refrigerated for a few hours before serving. To serve, run a knife around the pudding and turn out on a plate. Microwave until warmed through.