Blog written by: Jacqueline Greaves
Although anyone can tell you that I am not into sweets, perhaps because it is a memory of my youth studying in Spain, or my love of the perfection of eggs and milk, I adore a flan. Obviously the flan is another type of custard, but this is the way it is traditionally made in Spain. This is opposed to the crème brulee from France, with the sugar burnt on top of the custard using a small blow torch. That is way too scary for my tastes. In any case, as usual one of my absolute loves is citrus, whether it is lemon, lime, orange or any of those wonderfully delightful bursts of sunshine that is a citrus fruit. Here I combine three of my favorites to add a lot of sunshine into my life and to the delight of my taste buds. It is a lot simpler than seems.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour on top stove
30 minutes in oven
4 whole eggs
4 egg yolks
8 Tbsp. sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 Tbsp. lemon curd
1 Tbsp. marmalade
zest of 1 orange, 1 lemon, and 1 lime
10 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. water
The important thing to remember is that flan is cooked always in a double-boiler. I use one baking pan inside a larger one (10” x 3” for the flan, to be set inside a 12” x 3” tin). So the first step is to boil water that you will need during the entire process.
To make the caramel, place the sugar and water in a nonstick sauce pan and allow to boil, stirring occasionally until it reaches reaches a golden color. I like a more blond color for if you do it too long the flavor becomes more like coffee. Some people like my brother-in-law don’t like that. In any case, the dominant flavors here should be citrus. As soon as it is ready, about 8 minutes pour the caramel into the smaller tin and swirl covering the entire bottom. It will harden. However, like magic the caramel becomes liquid when the flan cooks, so be careful when turning over into a serving plate. Set the pan aside and prepare the custard.
In the meantime, mix the first seven ingredients for the custard together in a mixer. Add with a rubber spatula the zest for an extra punch of citrus flavors and aromas. Do save the fruit to make a syrup later, which always comes in handy. Pour the custard mixture over the caramel. Place the pan in the larger pan and pour the hot water into the larger pan until it reaches the middle of the pan. Place on a medium flame and allow to cook for one hour. About 15 minutes before need, preheat the oven to 350°F. Do remember to double-check the amount of water in the exterior pan throughout the cooking time on top of the stove. Never allow the water to dry out. Try to maintain the water mid-way up the pan. If needed, add more water before placing the pan in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is a beautiful golden brown. By this time the perfume that pervades your kitchen is sinful.
Remove from the oven as well as taking out the smaller pan from the larger one. Be careful as the water is very hot. Allow the flan to cool to room temperature before placing uncovered in the refrigerator.
Remove the flan approximately 20 minutes before serving. Using a metal spatula carefully move around the edge of the flan to loosen. Shake round a bit to make sure that it is loose. Place a large enough plate over the pan, with at least a slightly rounded edge because of the caramel, which is now liquefied. Carefully invert. The flan should fall easily into the plate. Sprinkle the orange zest over the top of the flan if desired, and serve.
**Candied citrus peel is made by creating thicker slivers of zest, which is then allowed to boil for approximately 2 minutes in the remaining syrup. Remove from the syrup and cover with granulated sugar, gently folding them in the sugar until coated on all sides. Remove and place on a plate and let cool. The slivers can be as thick and long as you wish.
Note: the flan can be made the day before. You can change the flavors of the flan by using other fruit, a single citrus or vanilla extra, etc.
So there you have one of the easiest but creamiest desserts that always creates a splash with its sparkly citrus tones.