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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sweet Potato Flan with Sesame Tuiles

Seasonal Recipe of the Week
I love sweet potatoes in any form. When I was a kid, I used to call Bernice — my amazing mother — from school, and she would put 2 sweet potatoes in the oven 1 hour before I arrived home, and we would have a sweet potato snack together when I got off the bus. No wonder I'm on Weight Watchers now! This is a recipe from Debra Madison’s classic cookbook Local Flavors for a sweet potato flan with warm molasses topped with sesame tuiles. It's a great side dish to any meal or a vegetarian entrée, you pick!

Ingredients for flan
Unsalted butter to coat the 6 ramekins
2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 vanilla bean halved lengthwise
3/4 pound of sweet potatoes flesh (baked till tender or steamed and then skin removed)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
Drizzle of warm molasses or chestnut honey
Sesame tuiles (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 325. Lightly butter 6 4-ounce ramekins. Bring the milk, sugar, and vanilla bean to a boil and then turn off heat. Take out vanilla bean and scrape vanilla seeds from pod back into the milk, let stand for 15 minutes to infuse flavors. Take your 3/4 of a pound of sweet potato pulp and puree with eggs and yolk. This will seem a bit sticky. Add milk and process till well blended. Pour liquid into ramekins and bake in a bain Marie filled with boiling water, which extends halfway up the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until mixture seems jiggly. Let cool in water bath. Run a knife around outer edge and turn onto small plates. Top with either warm molasses or warm honey and one of these swell sesame tuiles.

Ingredients for tuiles
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 egg whites
Pinch salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil
1/3 cup A.P. flour
1/2 cup toasted white Sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375. Cover 2 baking sheets with parchment. Melt butter and set aside to cool. Whisk egg whites with salt and sugar until foamy. Then whisk in sesame oil, and flour. Stir in melted butter and sesame seeds. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter onto sheet pan, leaving 3 inches between cookies, and spread into a very thin circle. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until lightly browned around the edges. Turn pans in oven midway through baking. Slide a spatula under tuiles and carefully lift them up and drape over a rolling pin to get them to have a nice curl. They harden as they cool. Bake one pan at a time.