ingredients
  • sugar for caramel 1 cup
  • Evaporated milk One 12-ounce can
  • Sweetened Condensed Milk One 14-ounce can
  • Large eggs 7
  • Vanilla Extract 1 teaspoon
  • quinoa 1 cup
  • water for cooking the quinoa 2 cups
  • Water for the bain-marie

This Peruvian dessert uses quinoa as a base in the custard, and is topped with a light caramel sauce. It takes a little time and attention to detail to get right, but once these individual custards are cooked, you can keep them in the fridge until you need them. They make a great dinner party dessert, and are a new take on the traditional crème brulee!

Extra equipment needed: Pot for cooking quinoa, a pot for melting sugar, 2 bowls, a 12-hole muffin tin, a large pan for the bain-marie, an immersion/stick blender, non-stick spray or oil for greasing, and foil to cover the muffin tin.

Instructions:

Wash the quinoa well to remove the bitter saponin, and cook with water in a pot for approximately 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C).

Measure 2 cups of cooked quinoa into a bowl, and use the immersion blender to pureé the quinoa by adding the evaporated milk a little bit at a time. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the 7 eggs, mix in the sweetened condensed milk, and add the vanilla extract.

Combine the quinoa pureé with the egg mixture and set aside.

Make the caramel by melting the sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Make sure not to let the sugar burn or it will taste bitter.

Pour the caramel into the muffin tin, enough to just coat the bottom. This bit can get messy and sticky!

Wait a few minutes for the caramel to cool and pour the quinoa pureé and egg mixture into the muffin tin.

Place the muffin tin into a deep pan and add some water to the pan to a level half the height of the muffin tin.

Cover the muffin tin with aluminum foil and place in oven, baking until the custard has set and is cooked, approximately between 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size of the muffin tin and whether your oven runs hot or cold.

Remove from oven and let cool for a couple of hours at room temperature.

Turn muffin tins upside down over a baking sheet to remove the cooked custard from the tins, use a spatula to loosen the custard if needed.

Serve on small plates and garnish with mint leaves and edible flowers if they are in season. I used wafer flowers for these as I couldn’t get any fresh edible flowers – I think they look just as good!

Notes:

Depending on the size of your muffin tin, you may have 12 or more servings and you may need to make more caramel. If you have leftover quinoa and egg mixture, you can refrigerate it for later use.

Cleaning the muffin tin after you’ve removed the custards can be quite a chore with the caramel stuck on the bottom! Soak the tin in hot water with dish soap for a while before washing, and it should loosen the stubborn caramel.