Monday, September 28, 2009


Growing up, I spent half of the year living in Japan and the other half living in the USA. In Japan, there is a delicious refrigerated custard dish called "pudding", though it isn't the typical Jello-style vanilla, chocolate, etc. pudding but in fact, a flan-like custard dish. It has the sugar/caramel topping and the soft custard at the bottom. I've never found a dessert quite like it here in the US, but do get my "fix" by going to my local Asian grocery store and purchasing my beloved Japanese dessert there.

Since our friends and we have started having our International Cooking Day (check out our Greek Feast), we have continued our tradition and decided on a Spanish food theme this past weekend. Our dessert of choice? FLAN! Rachel spent some time in Spain and loved having it while she was overseas, and I've been dying to have some and always wanted to try making it too.

I was in charge of caramelizing the sugar- be very careful and watch closely! It only takes a few seconds for the amber color (caramel) to turn dark and brown (and burnt). Once you start seeing a light brown color, remove the pan off the heat and place the caramelized sugar into your baking pan. Work quickly to spread the caramelized sugar around the pan evenly, as the sugar will start hardening soon after it is removed form the heat source. After baking in the oven, the dish will need to cool at room temperature for a few hours, and then chilled for at least 2 hours in the fridge. There are very few ingredients, but you need to work carefully. Overall, the efforts were worth it, and the flan turned out beautifully and tasted fantastic (with a hint of lemon)! We were both so thrilled with the results!

1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp water
2 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp grated zest from 1 lemon
14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1-1/2 cups low-fat milk (see note)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place a kitchen towel in the bottom of a large baking dish or roasting pan and place a 9-inch cake pan in the center. (We used 9-1/2" cake pan).
3. Bring the sugar and water to a boil in a small saucepan, swirling the pan gently, until the sugar has dissolved, about 3 minutes.
4. Reduce to a simmer and cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the mixture has caramelized to a deep, dark mahogany color, 7 to 10 minutes.
5. Carefully and slowly pour the caramel into the cake pan, being careful not to splash caramel onto yourself or outside of the cake pan, and cool slightly until hardened.
6. Bring a kettle or large saucepan of water to a boil over high heat.
7. Meanwhile, whisk the whole eggs and egg yolks together in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
8. Whisk in the zest, sweetened condensed milk, and low-fat milk.
9. Pour the mixture into the cake pan, and gently place the roasting pan on the oven rack.
10. Being careful not to splash any water inside the pan of custard, pour the boiling water into the roasting pan until the water reaches halfway up the side of the cake pan.

11. Bake until the center of the custard is just barely set, is no longer sloshy, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 170 to 175 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes (start checking the temperature after 25 minutes). (We baked it for 50-55 minutes total, and didn't use a thermometer.)
12. Carefully remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
13. Wrap the cake pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate the custard until completely chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
14. Run a knife around the cake pan to loosen the custard.
15. Invert a large serving platter over the top of the cake pan, and grasping both the cake pan and platter, gently flip the custard onto the platter, drizzling any extra caramel sauce over the top (some caramel will remain stuck in the pan).
16. Serve immediately.

Source: Cook's Illustrated


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