Did You Know? The name "Flan" begins with a word in old French "flaon," which comes from the Latin "flado," meaning "custard." According to Platina's De Honesta Voluptate, an Italian cookery text published approximately 1475, custard-type dishes were considered health food. In addition to being nourishing, they were thought to soothe the chest, aid the kidneys and liver, increase fertility and eliminate certain urinary tract problems.
My Uncle Eddie has been one of my biggest fans of Buff Chickpea, spreading the love to all of his friends, who couldn't be nicer with their feedback. He is always emailing me with praise for my latest recipe addition, both his own and from his friends. When I last spoke with him, he mentioned something about a flan, but school was just beginning again for Spring semester, so I sort of put it in the back of my mind. When my sister told me we would be going to my Uncle Garrett's house for lunch last Sunday, and that Eddie would also be going, I remembered the flan he had such high hopes for.
I had never made anything like this before, so I was a little nervous as to the outcome. Would it set up in the fridge? Would the caramel stick to the bottom of the dish? Would I be able to invert the flan onto another dish without a huge collapse? Yes, yes, and yes. The flan could not have been easier to make, and was even easier to flip out of the glass pan, with Eddie's help, making for quite the presentation.
The final product resulted in an incredibly smooth and creamy custard. I was hesitant about the texture, but my first bite erased any and all initial doubts. Sweet, but not overly so, and enriched with vanilla and hazelnut undertones, it reminded me of a lightened creme brulee. Popularized by the Latin community, my Uncle assured me I had created some stiff competition for his flan-obsessed friends. Competing for the perfect flan has resulted in a number of taste testings by my uncle, and when he told me his friends had some work to do to catch up to me, I couldn't have been more pleased.
Adapted from the Los Angeles Times
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2 oranges)
2 1/2 (14-ounce) cans condensed milk
1 1/2 (12-ounce) cans evaporated milk
1 3/4 cups milk
1 tablespoon amaretto
1 tablespoon vanilla
In a medium, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the sugar with the orange juice and one-fourth cup water. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved. Continue to cook until the sugar caramelizes and turns an amber color, then remove from the heat and immediately pour into a 13-by-9-inch glass baking dish and allow to cool to room temperature. It will harden to the bottom of the dish. Don't worry, as it cooks and cools, it will turn into a syrup and make for easy removal out of the dish.*
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, then whisk in the condensed, evaporated and regular milks. Whisk in the amaretto and vanilla, and then pour into the baking dish over the caramel.
Place the dish inside a large roasting pan (the roasting pan must be big enough so that there is a 1-inch clearance on all sides) and fill it with enough hot water so that it comes halfway up the side of the glass baking dish. Place the pan in the oven and cook 2 hours, until a knife inserted near the center of the flan comes out clean. It will be quite jiggly at this point, but will set as it cools. Remove the flan from the water bath and allow to cool, then place in the refrigerator, loosely covered, to chill until cold, preferably overnight. Invert onto a platter and serve immediately.
*As this was my first time baking flan, I was nervous about getting it out of the glass dish when it came time to invert it. To my delight, it slid right out, no problem. But in case there were any issues, I had made a caramel sauce and whipped cream to hide any blemishes. An excellent addition, but not needed by any means. The syrup that emerged naturally from the flan itself was more than enough to drizzle on top of each serving.
To return the proud uncle love, I encourage all of you to check out "The Calico Buffalo," seen in the right sidebar. It's a wonderfully composed book, with a beautiful message, written and illustrated by my extremely talented Uncle Eddie.