Actually, flan doesn’t rhyme with SWAN, it rhymes with CAN. I’m disappointed that my pretensions are for naught, I thought I sounded vaguely Euroooopeeeaan when I said it like that. Anyway.
Turns out that flan isn’t really even truly-truly Spanish, which blew my mind all over again. Like most wiggly things, (I speak of chaud-froid and aspic and gelee, naturally), the flan is French. Fronch, if you’re being Euroooopeeeaaaan.
Also, what things to put in/on in your flan is a hotly contested subject, and I’m probably going to get a bottle broken over my head for saying there’s nothing particularly set in stone regarding how one makes a flan… I hope it’s a nice bottle of Extra-Vecchio Balsamico or something.
Here’s a nice little recipe. It’s heavily borrowed from Eating Well, which you certainly will after preparing this fairly simple dessert.
- 3/4 cup granulated fine or superfine sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 8 oz. (one package) cream cheese, softened
- 8 eggs, cracked into a 2 cup measuring pitcher other vessel with a spout
- 1 14-oz can sweetened, condensed whole milk
- 1-12 oz can evaporated milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
- a few gratings of fresh Hawaiian-grown Ceylon cinnamon bark
- ripe plantain slices
In a small saucepan with a lid, make the caramel topping by heating the sugar with the water over very low heat, covered. Swirl it as it melts by turning the pan in small, shallow circles, until all the sugar has dissolved, about 10-12 minutes. Transfer the caramel to an 8″ cake pan with 2″ sides. Tip the pan so the caramel covers the bottom completely.
In a kettle or a large saucepan, heat about 4 cups of water. Heat your oven to 350 F.
In the bowl of mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or another heavy duty mixing bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the cream cheese for 2-3 minutes on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time until well mixed, scraping down the sides as you go.
Add the condensed and the evaporated milk, followed by the vanilla, and blend together until smooth. Pass the mixture through a sieve if desired to ensure a very smooth custard.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Place a rectangular baking dish or roaster that is large enough to accomodate the cake pan on a rack in the center of your oven. Set the prepared, filled cake pan into the baking dish, then pour the boiling water into the baking dish (NOT THE CAKE PAN! 🙂 ) and let the water come up about 1″ inch on the side of the cake pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Let the flan rest in the baking dish for 20 minutes. Smooth a warm knife around the edge of the pan and then place a flat plate on top of the pan. Invert the pan onto the plate and give it a gentle shake, the flan should turn out onto the plate. Let flan cool for up to 4 hours before serving. To serve, garnish with a bit of freshly grated Hawaiian cinnamon and top with sliced ripe plantains, if desired. Serves 6-12.