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Monday, January 7, 2013

Treat of the Week-Flan

Flan is a very popular caramel custard dessert that is eaten throughout Latin America. Each country has their little variation of the dessert but usually contains some type of sweetened or condensed milk, sugar and sometimes eggs. I cheated a little with my flan and just used the Goya instant mix, but I do have a yummy Cuban recipe that I want to share with you. I got this recipe from 3 Guys from Miami; their version has a secret ingredient, lemon rind!
 Photo via 3 Guys From Miami

Before you begin you should know for this dessert we use a technique called a “baño de Maria” or "bain marie" as it’s known in French cuisine.  It’s basically a water bath or a double broiler technique which allows the food to heat slower and not cook too fast and prevents air bubbles. I say this at the beginning because it could determine what type of mold you use for your flan. The technique basically involves placing your flan mold inside another larger container filled with hot water. So make sure you have a container large enough to fit your flan mold. I use a large aluminum pan (like the ones you use for turkey), fill it with water about 2 inches deep.  The 3 Guys recipe uses individual ovenproof custard cups for their flan mold, although you can use any heat resistant mold (preferably aluminum—the sturdy kind not the disposable kind). I pour my flan mixture into a round aluminum cake mold, and set it inside the larger turkey pan with the water (you can use a heat proof plate or a small cooling rack help stabilize the mold in the water). Once you get this down the rest is easy.
Photo via Foodielady
1 lemon rind, carefully pared
1 cup milk
1 cinnamon stick
3/4 cup sugar (for the caramel)
8 whole eggs
1 cup sugar (for the custard)
2 cups heavy cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Carefully remove the outer rind from a lemon. Don't cut too deep or you'll cut into the pulp! You just want the outer, mostly yellow layer!
Scald the milk by bringing it quickly to a boil with the lemon rind and cinnamon stick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Remove lemon rind and cinnamon stick after the milk cools.
Now for the caramel (which is the trickiest party I think). Heat 3/4 cup sugar in the bottom of a metallic pan at medium-low heat until it begins to melt. The sugar will turn into a thick syrup with a dark brown color. The key is to let it melt it gradually and stir it constantly to prevent burning!

Quickly remove from heat and pour into each one of your individual custard cups (or whatever mold you’re using). Tilt back and forth to cover the bottom and sides of the dish. The syrup will harden as it cools to form a thick shell. During the baking process, this shell magically transforms itself into a delicious dark caramel syrup.
For the custard, beat the eggs and 1 cup sugar on medium speed with an electric mixer until thoroughly mixed and frothy; stir in the warm milk and the cream. Pour into the caramel-lined mold(s) and set it into a baño de Maria (a.k.a. water bath, a.k.a. double broiler).
Bake for 1 ½ hrs or until a knife comes out of center clean. Remove the flan mold from the baño de Maria and let it cool in the dish. It can be eaten warm but I like mine cold so I let refrigerate after it cools.
Before serving, loosen sides with a knife and flip onto your serving dish. Dust with a little cinnamon or nutmeg (optional). 


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