Thursday, August 29, 2013

Traditional dessert: the mighty and powerful flan

Flan has been around since Roman times ( I've been eating flan since as long as I can remember. Not quite as long as Roman times but a long time none the less.

My memory of flan goes back to my grandmothers house in Colombia when the aroma of cooking and baking was as much a part of my every day as school and play time was.

In my grandmother's house flan was a delicacy and a treat. And my grandmother's flan was always perfect.

Flan is part of almost every South American traditional meal. And there are as many ways of making flan as there are South American and Central American countries. I recently found a recipe for flan at a cooking blog called My Colombian Recipes where directions for a delicious coffee flan can be found.

The coffee flan was incredibly delicious but I opted for the more traditional flan for this blog entry.

After 4 tries at making this flan I discovered the secret to the perfect flan; cooking time. Getting a smooth creamy yet firm texture requires that the custard mixture not be over cooked. I made my first flan cooking to the time mentioned in the recipe of 1 hour. Each consecutive try I reduced the cooking time by 5 minutes until I achieved flan heaven at exactly 50 minutes at 350 degrees. This result, of course, is unique to my oven. Your oven will differ.

You can find the recipe at My Colombian Recipes but to make the traditional flan just eliminate the coffee ingredient OR include the coffee, it's delicious as well.

The first step calls for caramelizing the sugar.

 1/4 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar at medium high heat stir only once in the beginning to soak the sugar completely then let the heat take care of the rest.

 Move the pan around to even out the color. It may start to turn golden on one side of the pan.
After about 8 or so minutes you will have a golden honey color or caramel but DO NOT let it get much darker or it will burn.

Set the ramekins out ready for the caramel.

Coat the bottom of the ramekins with a layer of caramel. I went back and poured a extra layer. Notice how the caramel continued to cook even after removed from the burner.

Five ramekins ready for the mix.
 After blending mixture for about 3 minutes it is ready to pour.

 Fill each ramekin with equal amounts of mixture.

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

 I use a large cake pan

 Place the ramekins in the pan then fill with water.

 The ramekins are immersed in water half way.

Voila! 50 minutes later: FLAN.

Take the flan out of the super hot water bath very carefully. I use a spatula to lift the ramekins out of the water and on to a kitchen towel. Let them sit out to cool for 30 minutes. 

 Cover with aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

 After 2 hours strike a small paring knife around the inside of the ramekin to separate the flan from the dish.
 Place a rimmed dish over the ramekin, turn it over and give a couple nudges until you hear the flan loosen from the ramekin.

Let the flan sit at room temperature for about 5-10 minutes and it will become soft and firm and smooth. Just nothing but melt-in-your-mouth-fun-time!

Give this recipe a try. Find it here at My Colombian recipes and leave me a feedback!! Really, leave feedback, I need it.

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