Wednesday, March 12, 2008

March 12: Orange Flan

It's been awhile since I posted any kind of a dessert. I love dessert, but I don't eat it very often. Besides being diabetic, I'm just not a "sweets" kind of person. I would rather skip dessert and have an extra serving of sweet corn, or some chips and salsa, or a really luscious appetizer.

But oh boy, flan. I am crazy about flan. It's a not-overly-sweet custard, rich and creamy, topped with a fabulous caramel sauce, made from scratch. It's simple, and at the same time, totally luxurious.

The best flan I've ever tasted--no kidding--cost $.95 in a Mexican restaurant at the back of a Mexican grocery store in Western Michigan. The restaurant had about nine tables and while the servers in the restaurant mostly spoke a little English, you would do well to speak a little Spanish there. We are usually in Michigan around Christmastime, which also coincides with my birthday. More often than not, that's the restaurant that I choose for my birthday dinner, and that's the dessert I choose too. Nobody seems to do it better than them, and it's always better than birthday cake.

Serendipitously, my email today held a recipe for this orange flan. I am really looking forward to making this. Maybe to follow a simple dinner of fried potato tacos and Rick Bayless' drunken pinto beans and a simple salad of romaine, red onion, radish, and tomato wedges.

It'll have to wait until this weekend though. I'm really having a swell week at work.

Here's one note though: the water bath keeps the custard from curdling, over-cooking, or cracking in the harsh heat of the oven. The easiest way to set it up is to put the roasting pan on the oven rack with the towel folded in the bottom, then set the filled cups on the towel, and then pour in the water. Not so much carrying and sloshing.

Orange Flan

Cooking Spray
2/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
3/4 cup Egg Beaters
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange peel

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray six 6-oz custard cups with cooking spray.

2. Place 1/3 cup of the sugar in heavy 1-quart saucepan. Heat over medium heat without stirring until sugar is melted and golden brown, swirling pan occasionally to heat evenly. Pour and divide syrup evenly among prepared custard cups. Tilt custard cups to coat bottoms evenly. Let stand 5 minutes.

3. Combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, milk, Egg Beaters, vanilla, and orange peel in medium bowl; mix until blended. Pour evenly into custard cups. Line a roasting pan with a folded towel to prevent the cups from sliding, place custard cups in the pan, and using a kettle with very hot water, carefully pour water into the roasting pan to come about 1 inch up the side of the custard cups.

4. Bake 25 minutes, or until knife inserted in center of custard comes out clean. Immediately remove from water. Unmold and serve warm, or refrigerate 4 hours and unmold at serving time.

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