October 9, 2009

Flan–Flan


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The only thing that keeps me going on the 21-hour flight(s) from Denver to Mendoza is the promise of flan.  Seriously.  Not the warm embrace of my husband's family, nor even a generous pour of Malbec (though that's a close second); it's knowing that when we get to Mendoza, we will have flan.

Our routine over the last few years has been to arrive in Mendoza proceed directly to the food court at Mendoza Plaza Shopping.  I know it sounds antithetical to go to South America and eat at a food court that has a McDonald's, but after a day in transit, we're in no shape to eat anywhere buta food court.  The Plaza Shopping is a surprisingly good place to people watch, relax,  and (duh) do a little shopping.  And even though the food court food isn't as high falutin' as the squid-ink pasta at Azafran, I can tell you that after plane food, it tastes like heaven.

But back to the flan.  The food court has several buffet-style restaurants that feature dessert buffets, whose desserts range from fresh fruit to dulce de leche/rum-soaked layer cake, but the flan gets me every time.  Maybe that's because it's sweet, but not cloying–truthfully, I'm not a huge fan of desserts.

But flan?  I gobble it down.  I don't gobble often, but flan is one of those desserts I can easily polish off in a matter of minutes and still be thinking about the next serving.  Like an inverted Creme Brulee, flan is custard with caramelized sugar sauce running over the top rather than a burnished sugar crust on the top.  (In France, flan is called Creme Caramel.) A good custard doesn't taste eggy, but is smooth and creamy with just the right hint of sweetness.  There has to be a nice balance between the custard and the syrup, so that each bite incorporates both.

Flan is ubiquitous in Argentina.   It can be found almost anywhere–every restaurant, at the supermarket (in little cups just like yogurt), or homemade at someone's kitchen table.  As far as desserts go, flan is super easy. The rewards far outweigh the labor–sweet, gooey caramelized sugar oozing over cool, creamy custard.  Each bite is a different combination of the custard and the carmel sauce. 

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Flan

Flan

Flan can be made in individual ramekins or as one big flan in slices, however you prefer to serve it.  It can be served cooled at room temperature or cold from the fridge.  Pair with a strong cup of coffee, a dessert wine or sherry, or even a glass of Champagne.  (Makes 6 small or one large flan)

1 3/4 cups whipping cream

1 cup whole milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon rum

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

5 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

With the oven rack in the center, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, milk and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Remove from heat and add vanilla and rum. 

Meanwhile, in another saucepan, combine the sugar and water.  Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then raise the heat to high, and cook until the mixture turns into a dark brown syrup.  Quickly pour the caramel into individual ramekins or into the large flan dish.  Carefully swirl the sauce around the ramekins, tilting so that sauce comes about halfway up the sides of each dish.  Take care not to burn yourself–the sauce is very hot!

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and 1/2 cup sugar until blended.  Gently add the cream mixture into the egg mixture.  Pour into ramekins, and set ramekins into a baking dish .  Pour hot water into the baking dish, (taking care to not get any water into the flans) until the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. 

Bake until the flan is set, about 45 minutes.  Set on a rack and cool.  Chill until cold, for 2 hours or overnight.

To serve, run a knife around the edge of each flan, and turn it over onto a plate.  Lift off the ramekin, and let the syrup to run over the flan.

11 Responses to “Flan–Flan”

  1. I am so glad you have posted this recipe. I have never made flan. I’ve looked at recipes and just haven’t taken the effort, I think I’ve always wanted a recommendation on a recipe that works.
    I’ll give this a try.

  2. I’ve been wanted to make flan for a very long time. Your post makes me want to taste flan in Mendoza. 😉
    Paz

  3. Delicious! I make flan here regularly, for it’s one of my favourite desserts. Flan topped with dulce de leche, what more can one want upon arriving in Argentina after a long flight? ahhh, yes, to kiss the family “hello”! :o)
    When I read your introduction, I couldn’t help laughing. Very nice post!
    Cheers!

  4. Rebe muy rico tu flan! viene bien en los dìas de calor,muy bueno, saludos desde Bowen Mza. Florencia

  5. Oh, I love Flan, I could eat it for all my meals!! We made an orange one for a New Years dinner last year, it was from an Argentina cookbook and it was fantastic!

  6. Hi Rebecca,
    Thank you so much for posting this recipe for flan. It looks heavenly. I hope you don’t mind that I “borrowed” you blog link to include in a post I did today for United Nations Day. The focus is on Argentine food and your blog is the ultimate stop for information and recipes. Thank you so much for sharing, Louise

  7. Hi Rebecca,
    We just returned from our trip to Mendoza, and I laughed reading your post as we visited both Mendoza Plaza Shopping AND Azafran during our trip! I left inspired to make some more empanadas and after seeing this I may just attempt some flan as well. After we detox from 8 days of a steady stream of Malbec and steak of course.. :) Hope that you are well!
    Erika

  8. I’ve been checking your site for a while now, and with you bringing up the Flan Spirit I felt I had to make a comment. Originally from Bs. As., I’ve been in the states for more than 35 years. In our family we make it a point to get together for the Holidays. My wife and I are “stuck” with Memorial Day! We have to cook for about 40 to 70 people, depending on who can come that year. Of course we have the asado, chorizos, empanadas, pizza especial, etc. But for dessert, for the last 15 years, the main one has to be Flan! Of course, we can’t cook them in the little round containers, we use one or two of the large aluminum pans. And 2 of the big pots for all that milk and cream that we have to get to almost boil. And of course I use a very large container to beat the eggs. And the best part is when you have to mix the whole thing. Anyhow, this is one of the few recipes that I’ve seen using cream with the milk. We use 3 parts milk and 1 part heavy cream. It seems to make it thicker and smoother at the same time. The other difference is of the eggs, half of them I use the whole egg, the other half I use only the yolk. And of course, in Argentina’s restaurantes you have the choice of topping with Dulce de Leche or Cream. We actually mix them together. One part Dulce de Leche and 2 parts Heavy Cream and beat them to a solid consistency. Of course, if you made the DdL with condensed milk, we add some vanilla essence, and, when you mix them, make sure you start with little cream to dissolve the dulce first. And by the way, thank you for contributing the nice experiences with the Argentinian family and their surroundings! They seem to be very nice mendocinos! And don’t tell anybody, but I’m soooo happy when there’s Flan leftovers!

  9. That looks awesome! Very tastey I can imagine!
    Good work!

  10. The flan is the secret for to conquist your love !
    My grandmother said it ..
    eh eh eh!!!

  11. I just tried this recipe today and it is amazing! My husband and I couldn’t wait for the ramekins to cool so we just tried one warm with whipped cream and La Serenisima dulce de leche. Yum! Thank you so much for posting it.

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