Friday, April 30, 2010

Flan (not in a tube)

Flan is a milk custard-y caramel creme dessert.  When it is served, with the caramel spilling over and around it, everyone will think you worked all day to make it.

I've been making this version of flan for years.  It's  not as cloyingly sweet or high in egg count as in other recipes.  It only makes enough for 4-6, and good thing, too, because you'll want to grab the spoon and eat it all yourself.  And, Ms. Non-Cook Person, it only has 5 ingredients in it!  Woo-hoo!

I make flan with skimmed evaporated milk.  You won't miss the fat of the regular stuff .  And no extraneous thickeners needed either.   Speaking of evaporated milk, have you ever noticed that, anytime you see evaporated milk as an ingredient in  something, it usually is followed by the ominous warning "NOT sweetened condensed milk."  Well, they both come in cans ... both have similar labels ... but if you can't read, you have worse problems than erroneously grabbing the wrong can.  But I digress ...

It does bake in a water bath, but don't panic!  It's not a difficult as it sounds.  Trust me.  I'll walk you through the oh-so-easy steps.

If you don't have a 3-cup ring mold, use a 4 or 6 cup ring mold.  You'll have a flatter flan, but the wonderful taste will still be there.  Baking time will be exactly the same, for some reason, so don't adjust  your dial.

Mexican Flan
Serves 4-6

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 eggs
1 13 oz. can evaporated skim milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
whipped cream (gilding the lily, very optional)

Preheat oven to 325F.  In a small saucepan over medium heat, constantly stir 1/2 cup of the sugar until the sugar melts and becomes golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Watch carefully because once the sugar starts to turn color it can quickly go from golden brown to smoke detector black.  As soon as it is golden brown, remove immediately from heat and pour into a 3 cup ring mold, tilting mold to coat bottom and sides.  Set aside.

Heat 2 quarts or so of water.  In a 2 quart bowl, beat eggs, then stir in evaporated milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla and salt.  Pour mixture into mold.  Set mold in a baking pan on the center oven rack.  Carefully pour enough water into the baking pan to a height of 1 inch.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until a knife inserted halfway between center and edge of mold comes out clean.  Carefully remove mold from water bath and place on cooling rack for 15 minutes to let cool a bit, then refrigerate until completely chilled.

To serve,  run a knife around the inside and outside edges.  Place a platter over the top, quickly flip the mold and platter over, then lift off the mold (shouting "Ta-dah" is up to you).  Slice off a portion, plate it and serve with the very optional Reddi-wip.

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