Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Real Flan




So, I finally made real flan, the Argentinean version of it at least, and I've been super proud of myself and making Argentinean/Uruguayan housemates try it and at the same time being concerned that I didn't caramelize the caramel enough, but nobody seems to care and I should probably stop talking about it. It's great, it's exactly what I was looking for, though I probably will make a slightly darker caramel next time because I like the slight bitterness it gives to an otherwise sweet dessert.




Remember this? Which is not really flan, but kind of (I said)? I hadn't had "real" flan in quite awhile before making the Brazilian "flan", which is called pudim for the very good reason that they actually taste extremely different (also: Portuguese). Case in point: flan tastes like eggs, 'cause it has EIGHT of them in it, and it has an almost spongy texture on top. Pudim tastes milky sweet and not eggy...because it has a whole can of sweetened condensed milk in it. Still super delicious, but definitely not flan. Flan=also delicious. Lasted less than 24 hours in our house, and Felipe and I may or may not have had it for breakfast and afternoon snack, which the Argentineans would not have approved of. (Flan is for after meals. Served with a side of dulce de leche and whipped cream, if you like!)

Flan de Huevo (Argentinean Egg Flan)

     adapted from Jimena Monteverde

For the caramel:

1 c. white sugar
1/3 c. water

For the custard:

8 eggs
1 c. sugar
2 c. milk
1 tsp. natural vanilla extract
zest from 1/2 an orange (optional, I didn't use this)

You can use any oven-safe mold for this, I used a flan mold that holds 5 cups of liquid and it was full to the brim so you might want to use one with a slightly larger capacity. You could certainly use a bundt pan, brioche mold or individual ramekins if you like, and I would imagine that most Latin markets sell inexpensive molds for flan if you feel like searching them out (though I don't think it's necessary, even a loaf pan will work just fine, it's less pretty but it'll taste just fine). You will also need a larger pan that your mold(s) fit in because the flan needs to be cooked in a water bath-- a roasting pan or any pan with sides (I used a 8 x 8 in. brownie pan) will work fine.

Anyway, have your mold(s) ready, as well as a potholder to protect your hand from the heat of the hot hot caramel you're going to pour into it. Preheat the oven to 350F. In a small, white/silver-bottomed saucepan (so you can see the sugar change color), melt the sugar and water, stirring just enough so that you have a sugar slurry.  Continue to cook the slurry over medium heat without stirring until it begins to turn amber. At this point watch it closely as it will go from nicely caramel to burnt very quickly. This is judgement time-- when the caramel is a nice amber, you can take it off the heat and immediately pour it into the mold that you are holding in your pot holder-protected hand, or, if you like the slight bitterness a darker caramel will give you, you can let it go a little longer, just short of burning, and then IMMEDIATELY pour it into the mold (it will continue to darken if left in its pot, even if you have turned off the heat). With your potholder-protected hand, tilt the mold so that the caramel swishes up the inside walls, leaving a more or less uniform coat (most of it will end up pooling back at the bottom, which is fine).
In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together, then add in the milk and vanilla extract (and orange zest if using). Strain the mixture directly into the flan mold, using a spoon to help force through any egg that gets stuck in the strainer. I find it easiest to place the larger pan (for the water bath) in the oven first, then the full flan mold inside, then use a spouted cup to add water to the large pan, until it's about half way up the flan mold. Bake for 40 min. - 1 hour (depending on the size and shape of your mold the time will vary, and if you're using small ramekins you should start checking after 30 minutes). To check if the flan is done, insert a thin knife halfway in close to the center. If it comes out clean, the flan is done, if it comes out wet and slushy looking, continue to check every 10 minutes until it comes out clean. The top of mine formed a skin, and when I peeled it back (I couldn't resist) I could see the flan was no longer jiggly underneath. Carefully remove the flan from the oven-- use your judgement on whether it's easier for you to remove the flan mold from the water bath while it's still in the oven or if it's easier to lift out the large pan with the flan mold still inside-- and place it in the fridge to cool for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Many people say flan tastes better on the second day, so it's a good make ahead dessert.
When you're ready to serve the flan, run a knife around the periphery of the mold (and the inside edge too if you're using a tube mold like mine), place a plate face down on the mold (make sure the plate is larger than the mold!) and quickly flip the flan onto the plate, it should slide out easily. If there is still a bunch of caramel at the bottom of the mold, you can heat the mold a bit directly on the stove to melt it and then pour it over the flan-- let it cool down a bit before pouring it, so that it's still liquid but not boiling. Serve cold slices, making sure to spoon a bit of the caramel over. Serve with dulce de leche and/or whipped cream if you're feeling particularly Argentine that day.

Flan de Huevo


Para el caramelo:

1 taza de azúcar blanca
1/3 taza de agua

Para la cremita:

8 huevos
1 taza de azúcar blanca
2 tazas (1/2 litro) de leche entera
1 cucharita de extracto de vainilla natural
ralladura de media naranja (opcional, yo no la use)

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