8.21.2012

Super Smooth Flan

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When I saw this flan recipe in the April issue of Bon Appétit with its short ingredient list, I thought, this looks easy! Well, it's not hard. But its also not easy. This recipe is a time sucker. There's a lot of baking, and waiting, cooling and waiting involved.

If you saw my the very first blog video, you also witness me "releasing" the flan. The fun part of this ordeal. As I mentioned in the video, dessert is a must for a fancy dinner. Typically, I would buy churros from the Mexican market, or serve ice cream, but I wanted something more special, and this flan recipe came to mind. 

I started preparing my flan after 9 pm, and didn't get to bed until past 1 am. Sure, I probably would have finished quicker if my husband, the kitchen helper, hadn't burned the sugar water, but, it still wouldn't have been fast enough. Luckily, my dinner guests showed this flan a lot of love, someone might have even claimed it was the best flan they have ever had, so I felt better about missing my 10 pm bedtime. But, even their compliments didn't erase the memories of trying to keep my eyes open so as not to overcook the delicate dessert.

This Jose Andres recipe involves baking the flan at a low heat, for a long time, a total of about 50 minutes (I believe it took me an hour). Then letting it cool an additional 30 minutes while it sits in the roasting pan filled with liquid. This method is what makes the flan smooth, extra smooth. So, if you have some time to kill, and enjoy a super smooth flan, or want to impress your dinner guests, I highly recommend this recipe. Just make sure to start your flan prep no later than 7 pm, so you can get to bed at a decent hour.
The Smoothest Flan
www.bonappetit.com

1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Six 4-ounce ramekins

1) Preheat oven to 325°. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 2 Tbsp. water in a medium heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until caramel is medium-dark amber, 5–6 minutes. You don’t want to go crazy stirring your sugar water, because it will turn back to… sugar!
2) Working VERY quickly, divide caramel among ramekins, coating bottoms evenly. Let cool until hard.
3) Gently whisk remaining 1/3 cup sugar and eggs in a medium bowl. Add cream, half-and-half, and vanilla; gently whisk to combine (do not aerate). Let sit until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve set over a medium pitcher to eliminate air pockets.
4) Place ramekins in a roasting pan lined with a kitchen towel; place pan on a large rimmed baking sheet.  This baking the kitchen towel deal scared freaked me out at first. But then I realized it was going to be covered by water, so I was less freaked out. Divide custard among ramekins. Pour hot water into roasting pan to reach a little more than halfway up sides of ramekins. Cover pan with foil, crimping to seal. Carefully transfer to oven; cook for 25 minutes. Rotate pan. Cook until custard is set but center still jiggles when dish is nudged, 20–25 minutes longer.
5) Uncover roasting pan. Let flan cool in pan for 30 minutes. Remove ramekins and let cool completely. Cover with plastic; chill overnight.
6) Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving. Unmold flans onto plates.

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