Caramel-Topped Flan

 

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Confession #1: Before this week’s recipe, I had never had flan.

Confession #2: After this week’s recipe, I officially do not like flan.

Perhaps it is an acquired taste? I had heard rumors that there existed a love/hate relationship between most people and flan. I thought for sure I would love it. I love pudding, custard, creme brulee, etc. In the end, I had a real problem with the texture and the fact that it was cold. It also tasted a little eggy to me, which may not have come across so much if it wasn’t cold (I’m only guessing). I really didn’t care for it, which was a shame, because it’s such a pretty and elegant-looking dessert!

Thank you to Steph from A Whisk and a Spoon for choosing this week’s recipe because even if I did not necessarily find myself head over heels with the flan, I have conquered yet another first in my kitchen and can now say that I have successfully made flan. I just personally didn’t care for it, but it’s hard to believe that we’ll love every single thing that we ever make! I’m just happy for the opportunity to try out new flavors and techniques.

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Next week: Gooey Chocolate Cakes
Last week: Brioche Raisin Snails

Caramel-Topped Flan

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Prep Time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Ingredients:

For the caramel:
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons water
squirt of fresh lemon juice

For the flan:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a roasting pan or 9"x13" baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off heat.

2. Put a metal 8"x2" round cake pan --not a nonstick one-- in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel. (If you are using small individual molds or ramekins, then skip this step. Use six 6-oz or seven or eight 4-oz ramekins or containers.) [Note: I cut the recipe in half and used one 16-oz. ramekin.]

3. To Make the Caramel: Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber colored caramel, about 5 minutes--remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.

4. Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to evenly coat the bottom with the caramel. Set the pan aside.

5. To Make the Flan: Bring the milk and heavy cream just to a boil. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 of the hot liquid-- this will temper the eggs so they won't curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the rest of the hot liquid. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.

6. Put your caramel-lined pan into the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour in enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don't worry if it sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there (small individual molds will take less time--start checking for doneness around the 25-minute mark). A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.

7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooling rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

8. When ready to serve, once more run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-- the flan will shimmy out and the caramel will coat the custard.

Storing:
Covered with plastic wrap in its baking pan, the flan will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. However, once unmolded, its best to enjoy it the same day.

Serving: Bring the flan to the table and cut into wedges. Spoon some of the syrup onto each plate.

Playing Around-- Caramel-topped coconut flan: For a more tropical flan with a somewhat lighter texture, replace the heavy cream with a 15-oz can of unsweetened coconut milk and reduce the amount of milk to 1 cup.

(Source: Dorie Greenspan "Baking: From My Home to Yours" pages 395-397)