Friday, January 15, 2010
I have wanted to make flan for a long time! The problem: I didn't have custard cups. When I was living at home, prior to the mid-nineties, I used my mom's. When I got married, I didn't think to register for any. Once or twice over the years, it occurred to me to just go out and purchase my own, but I never got around to it. After dreamily perusing recipes for Chocolate Pots de Creme and individual souffles and longing for a batch of the comforting custard of my childhood, I decided to put custard cups on my Christmas list this year. I was excited when I opened them under my husband's parent's tree. Immediately, I thought about flan. Maybe it was because the people in the room with me, my husband's family, had all assisted in indulging my flan obsession nearly 6 years before.
It was St. Patrick's Day 2004. As was tradition, I met my husband's whole family out for a celebration at the local Irish restaurant/pub, a place called Dooley O'Toole's. St. Patrick's Day is a very important holiday for my mother-in-law. You can read a little more about that HERE. We had a lovely time at dinner. The place was definitely festive and full of Irish spirit...or should I say spirits? Not that I touched a single one. You see, I was just rounding out the first trimester of my first pregnancy. Unfortunately, none of the food at Dooley's was hitting the spot. I had 4 very distinct cravings through the first half of that pregnancy: grapefruit juice (by the gallon!), fried mushrooms (but only from one specific restaurant), Marie Callender's Cherry Crunch Pie, and flan. I know, totally weird. Anyway, as dinner wound down to a close, my mother-in-law looked at me and asked, "Would you like some dessert, honey?" I'd kind of zoned out in my tired pregnant daze...daydreaming of flan. I said that I thought maybe I'd just stop at the Mexican restaurant, Cancun, on my way home and pick up some flan. Someone at the table asked, "Really?" and I answered (now pretty sure that I needed flan) "Yep." Being that I was pregnant with the first grandchild/niece in the family and my husband was out of town on business, everyone decided that they should join me for dessert. It was really very sweet. Anyway, that's how my husband's family of Irish descent all ended up with a mariachi band singing loudly next to our cantina table on St. Patrick's Day while I devoured my flan. I still smile when I think of that night.
Last night for dinner I made a pan of Cheesy Beef and Bean Burritos and decided that we needed flan for dessert. I'd been looking for an excuse to use my new custard cups for nearly a month! Around the same time that I got these custard cups I recieved 4 bottles of POM wonderful in the mail. I won them in a give-away on Deep South Dish. Beyond just drinking the healthy POM juice or using them in a Pomegranate Martini,(recipe found HERE) I've wanted to use this POM juice in a recipe. I saw this Pomegranate syrup served with flan on the POM wonderful website and decided to give it a try. I'm so happy that I did. The tangy-tart flavor of the syrup played beautifully against the sweet caramelized sugar and smoothness of the flan. It was truly lovely.
Flan begins with caramelizing the sugar. To caramelize sugar, cook 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until the sugar begins to melt, shaking the skillet occasionally to heat the sugar evenly. You're not supposed to stir it...yet.
Once the sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes more or until all of the sugar is melted and golden, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Make sure that you turn the heat to low as soon as the sugar melts. I find that I have tendency to burn the sugar. If it starts to get too brown too quickly, lift that skillet of the burner and let it cool down for a couple of seconds before continuing.
Immediately divide the caramelized sugar among four 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins; tilt custard cups to coat bottoms evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Beat three eggs in a medium-sized bowl.
Add in milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and vanilla.
Beat until well combined but not foamy. I got to use my new Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick Hand Blender for this step. Have I mentioned how much I love that little tool? So handy!
Place the custard cups in a 2-quart square baking dish. Divide egg mixture among custard cups. If you want, you can sprinkle each with nutmeg or cinnamon. Since I always add nutmeg to my custard I sprinkled two with nutmeg and tried cinnamon on the other two.
Pour boiling water into the baking dish around custard cups to a depth of 1 inch. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centers comes out clean. For some reason, my flan needed to bake for about an hour until it set. Remove cups from the water. Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving or cool completely in custard cups. Cover and chill until serving time.
Before serving, make the pomegranate syrup. Here's one of 4 bottles of POM that I won in Mary's giveaway. My daughters were certainly intrigued by the juice that came in the "bubble bottle".
Add a cup of juice to 3/4 cup of sugar and boil until the mixture reduces to 1/2 cup.
To unmold, loosen edges of flans with a knife, slipping point between flans and sides of custard cups. Invert a dessert plate over each flan; turn plate and custard cup over together. Remove custard cups from flans. I had to jiggle mine a bit to get them to let go of the custard cups. I guess they liked it in there. Drizzle the pomegranate syrup around the flan before serving. That first bite was...WOW!
Caramel Flans from the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook
Prep: 25 minutes
Bake: 30 minutes
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 cups milk (I used 1%...it's what I had in the fridge)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Ground nutmeg or cinnamon (optional)
1. To caramelize sugar, in an 8-inch heavy skillet cook 1/3 cup sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking the skillet occasionally to heat the sugar evenly. Do not stir (see photo 1, below). Once the sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low and cook about 5 minutes more or until all of the sugar is melted and golden, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon. Immediately divide the caramelized sugar among four 6-ounce custard cups or ramekins; tilt custard cups to coat bottoms evenly. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine eggs, milk, 1/3 cup sugar, and vanilla. Beat until well combined but not foamy. Place the custard cups in a 2-quart square baking dish. Divide egg mixture among custard cups. If desired, sprinkle with nutmeg. Place baking dish on oven rack. Pour boiling water into the baking dish around custard cups to a depth of 1 inch. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centers comes out clean.
3. Remove cups from water. Cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. (Or cool completely in custard cups. Cover and chill until serving time.) To unmold, loosen edges of flans with a knife, slipping point between flans and sides of custard cups. Invert a dessert plate over each flan; turn plate and custard cup over together. Remove custard cups from flans.
4. Makes 4 flans
5. Make-ahead directions: Prepare and bake flans as directed above. Cool flans completely in custard cups on wire rack. Cover and chill until serving time.
6. Baked Custards: Prepare as above, except omit the 1/3 cup sugar that is caramelized in step 1. Divide egg mixture among custard cups or one 3-1/2-cup soufflé dish. Bake individual custards as directed for flans or bake in the soufflé dish for 50 to 60 minutes. Serve warm or chilled. Makes 4 individual custards or 1 large custard.
Per custard: 236 cal., 14 g total fat (8g sat. fat), 192 mg chol., 90 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 7 g pro.
Daily Values: 10% vit. A, 1% vit. C, 11% calcium, 4% iron
Exchanges: 1 1/2 Other Carbo, 1 Medium-Fat Meat, 2 Fat
To make POM Syrup from the POM Wonderful website:
Combine 1 cup juice and 3/4 cup of sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 20 minutes until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring frequently.
I enjoyed the POM syrup so much that I started thinking of other applications. It would be wonderful on pancakes or waffles. This morning I even drizzled it over my bran flakes.
Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!