Though I did more cooking than gardening the last few days, flowers are making me happy. How wonderful to have enough of the cutting varieties to decorate the house — I remembered to bring in some zinnias yesterday. And our Pristine rose is blooming its sweet September gift.
I made flan this week. It was the third time for me, and the most enjoyable all around. As in my lemon cake, I allotted plenty of time for the project because it still seems like a big deal; I hadn’t made it for a couple of years at least.
I know some people just make a custard and put caramel sauce on it, but from my first attempt, I wanted to do the caramel in the traditional way, and it’s not hard. It just takes some concentration, and it is a little odd melting sugar in a pan the first time you try it.
I like that you can make the caramel as a separate project, almost, and get that part of the recipe all done before starting the custard itself. That made it a pleasure to “slowly and constantly stir the sugar” as I stood by the stove and realized that the aroma of melting sugar had taken me to the county fair and the experience of walking past the cotton candy booth.
But actually I was still standing in my kitchen stirring, fascinated by the warm sweetness in the air and the stages the sugar goes through on its way to becoming caramel. I didn’t exactly stir constantly, as I kept pausing for a few seconds to take a picture, and when I did my spoon got all caked with partially melted sugar, but it all turned out fine in the end.
I was using custard cups this time, and wasn’t sure if the quantity of caramel in the recipe designed for a pie plate would suffice for all the cups, so I made 50% more caramel, which turned out to be more than needed. When it was ready, I set the burner to “warm” and for each cup in turn I put in a spoonful of the hot syrup and tilted the cup quickly to swirl it around the bottom and up the sides a little way.
What was left over I added to the bottom of the cups, and then set the “caramelized” cups in a roasting pan to wait for the custard.
Then I got busy with the blender. In the background, though, the caramel was cooling and hardening on the other side of the kitchen and kept making “plink!” noises as it squirmed against the glass cups.
You can find the quantities of ingredients in: my first flan post from 2011. It’s definitely a rich combination of foods, but I like the resulting density of custard better than anything I’ve eaten elsewhere.
After the custard is poured into the containers, hot water is added to the pan and everything bakes for about 40 minutes. I had a little extra custard that I put into a ninth cup, which one couldn’t exactly call “plain,” but it was without caramel.
And here are the baked puddings, all tender, creamy and brown.
In the end, all the extra caramel was so hardened at the bottoms of the cups that it didn’t come out. There was just the right amount that stuck to the bottom, now the top of the custard, and enough liquid to run out over and form a puddle when I turned the cups upside down. They are perfect
little medium-sized flans. Mr. Glad and I agree that if we are to get the most enjoyment out of them, one of them ought to be shared between the two of us, but the first ones were consumed extravagantly.