Monday, September 11, 2006
A Dessert from the Past: Flan!
Seasoned readers of this blog have probably gathered that I don't eat a lot of dessert.
I try to stick to fresh fruit for my sweets, and it works out fine for me, especially as I really love fresh fruit. This week's fare has included juicy nectarines and cactus fruit (peel carefully! the thorns, which protect the cactus for predators, do exactly what they are supposed to - and it stings!). But there's one big exception to this rule - and that's when Chad makes Flan!
Flan, a lovely and creamy milk, egg and caramel custard, is a dessert we both grew up with as kids in Ecuador. There are commercial versions, which are not bad at all, and then there's the home-made variety, which is fabulous.
The trick with flan is to mix the milk and eggs really well and leave some bubbles in the mixture, though not for too long, because too much foam ruins the creamy texture. It can also be seasoned with various treats - I'll place some good recommendations below. The picture above is taken of an anime site, battleangel.info (of all places!), because ours was eaten too fast to be photographed. But it was equally delicious!
Deep baking dish (shallow dishes make for shallow flans).
2 eggs + 2 yolks
2 cups of milk (for this dish, cow milk works better than goat milk)
1 tsp vanilla
optional: 1-2 tsps sugar (if the topping is sweet, you can do without)
optional seasonings: lemon peel; cardamon; cinnamon; nutmeg; or, for coffee flan, a teaspoon of good espresso powder
For caramel topping:
1 cup sugar
1/8 cup water
Heat up oven to about 180 degrees celsius.
Heat up milk with spices and let cool.
Meanwhile, caramelize the sugar: heat it with water, constantly mixing it, until it reaches syrup consistency. It doesn't have to become solid, but it's preferrable if it's solid enough to be sticky.
Whisk milk with eggs until there's little bubbles everywhere, but don't make too much fluff.
Coat baking dish with caramel, then pour milk and egg mixture on top.
Bake for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or a knife goes in the flan and comes out clean and dry.
Wait till it cools, then slowly and carefully use a knife to separate sides of flan from the dish. When you've done this to the best of your ability (patient people do better at this stage), invert the flan onto a plate. Whoa! There's caramel on top! Have fun.