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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Flan — why mess with the classics?

One of my favorite desserts is a simple flan (or crème caramel, if you're French). Yes, you can alter the flavorings, add some citrus, or some herbs (thyme, lavender, lemon verbena, etc.) but how about just leaving it alone and making it perfectly? (Okay, maybe add an edible flower on top.) You can't beat that! This makes 6 servings

1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 cup full-fat milk
pinch salt
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise with seeds scraped out and saved
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
3 large eggs
2 large yolks
7 Tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 and position rack in the center of the oven. Combine cream, milk and salt in a medium-size sauce pan. Add the vanilla seeds and the scraped vanilla bean pod. Bring to a simmer over medium heat then shut off and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.

Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar and the water in a small sauce pan and cook until sugar liquifies and turns a deep amber color. Be careful, if it gets too dark it gets real bitter, which nobody wants! Carefully pour about a tablespoon of this hot caramel into the bottoms of six 3/4-cup ramekins and swirl around to cover bottom. Set ramekins into a large roasting pan (13 × 9 × 2 inches).

Whisk eggs, egg yolks, and 7 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl until blended. Gradually and gently, whisk cream into egg mixture. Strain the egg mixture into a large measuring cup and carefully divide mixture among the ramekins. Open the oven door, pull the rack partially out to make the filling process easier. Now add very hot water into the pan, until the water level is halfway up the ramekins. Be careful not the splash water into the ramekins! Then slowly push the pan onto the rack then into the center of the oven.

Bake until centers are set and are jiggly, about 40 minutes. Remove from water bath and let cool, then refrigerate covered overnight.

To serve, run a small sharp knife around the edge, cover with a plate, give a little shake and turn over. If all is right with the world the flan will fall out onto the plate covered with a nice pool of caramel. And you will be a superstar.


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