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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Flan for the Soul


This is a fantastically dramatic yet healthy dessert: Flan. With simple, pure ingredients and no oil and just a little sugar, its a great ending to a light meal.  The flans are inverted just before serving, making a gorgeously elegant caramel-covered custard.


This recipe should be made the night before its needed, because it needs to sit a few hours in the fridge before serving.  Making it an ideal dish for entertaining because all that needs to be done the day of the party is the presentation!

This recipe is originally from Soul Food Love.  Quoting from page 186:


FLAN

Serves 6 

This just may be the prefect dessert.  It is made with simple ingredients, can be made well ahead, is pretty, and involves a bit of drama in its presentation.  And it's a world traveler.  In French-speaking communities this dish is often known as creme caramel, and it appears in many old Creole cookbooks.  In the Philippines it's known as leche flan.  My first nanny, Leedy Ellacer, fondly known as Yaye, loved this dish.  I love it, too. 

Flans don't always love you back-- they can be just a bit finicky.  You've got to cook a flan slowly and evenly, or instead of a silky interior you'll have something grainy at worst and full of little bubbles if it's just slightly off.  And making caramel is not the easiest kitchen task, but once you've tought yourself its like riding a bike -- you won't forget and you'll love it when you get the chance. 

1 1/2 cups sugar6 large eggs1/8 teaspoot salt3 cups whole milk, warmed1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract1 teaspoon ground nutmeg 

1.  Preheat the oven to 325F.  Have ready six 6-ounce ramekins. 

2.  To make the caramel, stir 1 cup of the sugar with 1/2 cup of water in a small saucepan.  Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and continue to boil, swirling the pan and checking the sugar until it becomes amber colored.  Remove from the heat and carefully pour the hot caramel into the ramekins.  Tilt and swirl the ramekins to make sure the caramel spreads over the bottom of each dish and slightly up the sides.  Let it sit until the caramel hardens, a minute or two. 

3.  To make the custard, whisk together the eggs, remaining 1/2 cup sugar, and the salt, the mix in the milk, vanilla, and nutmeg.  Pour this mixture on top of the hardened caramel in the ramekins.   

4.  You will have to make a water bath to bake the flan. To do that, use a small roasting pan or large baking dish, and fill it halfway with hot water.  Then put the ramekins in the pan; the water should come three-quarters of the way up the sides.  Carefully transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the custards are just set, about 50 minutes.  To cool, remove the pan from the oven, then remove the ramekins from the hot water.  They can cool on an heat-resistant surface or on a rack inf you have one.  Once they have cooled, refrigerate the flans until fully chilled, at least 5 hours. 

5.  To unmold the flans, set the ramekins in an inch of hot water for 30 seconds.  Dry the bottoms, then run a flexible spatula round the inside edge of each ramekin.  Invert a plate over each ramekin and then flip the plate and the ramekin together so the plate is right side up.  Give the bottom of the ramekin a firm thwack with a wooden spoon before lifting off the ramekin.  

Me again...I like to make these in mini ramekins, which makes almost a dozen - plenty of healthy little desserts for the week!  Personally, I prefer to use a bit less nutmeg, about 1/2 teaspoon and mix in 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.  The mixture gives almost a brandy flavor to the caramel and is a delight.


Enjoy!




BUY SOUL FOOD LOVE HERE





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