On one of our first dates, Jeff took me to dinner at the now-beloved La Hacienda, where–as luck would have it–a gloriously sequined mariachi band was making its way around the room. Loudly. If you made eye contact with the band leader, they would serenade your table. If you didn’t, they would play on to the next.
I stared down at the menu, trying to will myself invisible. Jeff made eye contact.
“Play something that will make the lady swoon,” he said.
There I sat, turning as red as the roses on their jackets. But Jeff was beaming. So, instead of hiding my face or praying for The Rapture, I took his outstretched hand and enjoyed the moment.
He still makes me swoon.
I tell this story so you will know how much I adore Mexican food. I so wish I had been thrilled with the announcement of this week’s Tuesdays With Dorie group recipe: Caramel-Topped Flan. But, sadly, I am not a flan fan. It’s probably some sort of character flaw.
If you are a flan fan, I suspect this is a good one. The recipe is quick and easy, and the finished dessert is incredibly smooth, a lovely amber. The taste was a little eggy for me, but I’ve got some lemons, limes, and oranges. A little citrus zest could be just what this flan needs to wake it up and make it swoon.
From Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking: From My Home to Yours”
For the Caramel:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- squirt of fresh lemon juice
For the Flan:
- 1-1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1-1/4 cups whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with a double thickness of paper towels. Fill a teakettle with water and put it on to boil; when the water boils, turn off the heat.
- Put a metal 8-x-2-inch round cake pan-not a nonstick one-in the oven to heat while you prepare the caramel.
- To Make the Caramel: Stir the sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and cook until the sugar becomes an amber-colored caramel, about 5 minutes-remove the pan from the heat at the first whiff of smoke.
- Remove the cake pan from the oven and, working with oven mitts, pour the caramel into the pan and immediately tilt the pan to spread the caramel evenly over the bottom; set the pan aside.
- To Make the Flan: Bring the cream and milk just to a boil.
- Meanwhile, in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or in a bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar. Whisk vigorously for a minute or two, and then stir in the vanilla. Still whisking, drizzle in about one quarter of the hot liquid-this will temper, or warm, the eggs so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the hot cream and milk. Using a large spoon, skim off the bubbles and foam that you worked up.
- Put the caramel-lined cake pan in the roasting pan. Pour the custard into the cake pan and slide the setup into the oven. Very carefully pour enough hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to come halfway up the sides of the cake pan. (Don’t worry if this sets the cake pan afloat.) Bake the flan for about 35 minutes, or until the top puffs a bit and is golden here and there. A knife inserted into the center of the flan should come out clean.
- Remove the roasting pan from the oven, transfer the cake pan to a cooking rack and run a knife between the flan and the sides of the pan to loosen it. Let the flan cool to room temperature on the rack, then loosely cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- When ready to serve, once more, run a knife between the flan and the pan. Choose a rimmed serving platter, place the platter over the cake pan, quickly flip the platter and pan over and remove the cake pan-the flan will shimmy out and the caramel sauce will coat the custard.