Thursday, March 13, 2008

Flan!

I realize not everyone may have an idea of what the deal is with flan. The French tried (and failed) to appropriate it and rename it "creme renversee."

It's basically a baked custard, firmer than a creme brulee (lacking the latter's caramel exoskeleton, it'd have to be) and with a less eggy/more milky flavor profile.

This was originally a Spanish dessert, but as it spread throughout the Empire, local variations evolved. I know Mexico has its variation, as does Argentina and they are all as similar as first cousins. The version from Cuber relies on "convenience products" borne of a then-close association with the USA and the necessities of a tropical climate where dairy and eggs spoiled quickly (that's why you'll never see a recipe that has an imbalance of yolks and white...too much waste). For example, in Spain, they'd never use anything other than fresh whole milk, etc.

I'll post this mo' thoroughly with pictures, but here's the dead-easy recipe.

Flan (in the style of Cuber)

¼ c. sugar
1 can of condensed milk (lowfat or fat free is fine)
1¼ c. of milk (anything that is NOT SKIM milk will also work: whole milk, evaporated milk in any variation, lowfat...just not skim)
4 large eggs (or 2 eggs and 3 whites)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Take a soufflé dish, scatter the sugar evenly over the bottom and place in the oven at 325F (___C) until the sugar has caramelized to the color of pale honey, toss in the freezer to set caramel. If your dish isn't tempered to handle the temperature shock -- or if you don't want to discover it isn't the hard way -- you may use a saucepan to melt/caramelize the sugar and then pour the caramel in the dish, rolling it around to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside.

Empty the condensed milk into a mixing bowl, scraping the inside as clean as possible. Add the milk to the empty can, to rinse off what you can, and then add to the bowl. Add your eggs, and mix thoroughly...do not incorporate air into this. Stir in vanilla.

Pour custard mix into soufflé dish. Place dish in a roasting pan and fill with water. Turn oven to 300F and bake for about 60-70 minutes, until the center is wobbly. Remove and refrigerate until chilled (figure 3 hours). Run a damp boning knife along the edge and invert to unmold.

Using evaporated milk over fresh will give a bit more depth of flavor, fresh milk will make it taste lighter. Same applies to the ratio of yolks to whites. Using extra whites will make the flan firmer, but less eggy. I like using skim evaporated milk and whole eggs. You do whatever. You may also make this in individual ramekins which makes for a more posh presentation, but is a greater PITA in unmolding. Oh, and baking time drops to +/- 45-50 minutes.

The most important thing in making flan is keeping an eye on the time/heat in baking. You can tell you did it right if there are no bubbles or "eyes" in the body of the custard. If you get these, the texture will suffer some (its mouthfeel will be a touch gritty; the more bubbles, the grittier) but it will taste fine. Just adjust the time/temperature accordingly. When in doubt, it's better to bake these sorts of things low and slow.

This ain't a race, people.

-J.

Posted by Joke at 8:13 AM

11 Comments

  • Blogger Sarah O. posted at 7:16 PM, March 13, 2008  
    Mmmmmmm... flan.

    Oh great, now my keyboard's all slimy.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 8:42 PM, March 13, 2008  
    If you make it with the skim dairy options and the 2 eggs/3 whites, you'd actually have something pretty low in fat, within hollering distance of being healthy.

    -J.
  • Blogger bluemountainsmary posted at 2:35 AM, March 14, 2008  
    This is a recipe I am willing to try.

    I am not brilliant at desserts but this does sound relatively fool proof.
  • Blogger Kim posted at 7:42 AM, March 14, 2008  
    I am suitably impressed.
    Isn't this a creme caramel? Or is that what you explain at the start.
    Anyway, while I adore creme brulee, this kinda thing makes me all squicky. Don't know why. It's a texture thing I guess.
    I'm still very impressed.
    As you were.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 4:24 PM, March 14, 2008  
    BMM, if you bake it low-and-slow (and in a water bath) you should have ZERO problems.

    If you are unsure about your oven, err on the side of caution.

    -J.
  • Blogger h&b posted at 10:25 PM, March 14, 2008  
    Yum !

    I'm behind on my reading and have 33 unread posts by you.

    This was a great opener..
  • Blogger Caro posted at 3:31 PM, March 16, 2008  
    Oh yum. I wonder if I could convert this. My son would love it, if I left him any.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 5:24 PM, March 17, 2008  
    Given that a custard relies on casein for structure, I'm guessing it doesn't look good.

    -J.
  • Blogger Tere posted at 8:10 PM, March 18, 2008  
    I HATE flan with holes in it - it ruins the entire experience.

    And I must admit that I also like the creamier variations, which in many cases is achieved by adding cream cheese or something similar.
  • Blogger Joke posted at 9:17 PM, March 18, 2008  
    The cream-cheesy versions (flan de queso) tend to be more of Mexican thing.

    But under no circumstances are holes ever even remotely acceptable.

    -J.
  • Blogger Major Bedhead posted at 9:33 PM, March 20, 2008  
    Oh, how I love flan. I haven't really had a good one since I my aunt (who has lived in Spain for 40+ years) made one a few years ago.

    I think I have the ingredients for this. Well, except the soufflé dish.
  • Post a Comment

    « Home