Saturday, August 10, 2013

Mama Graciela's Flan (family recipe)

Mama Graciela's Flan
My husband and I recently had the pleasure of attending a cousin's wedding and I got to meet some wonderful extended family members.  This traditional Puerto Rican flan recipe has been passed down through several generations and we are very happy to have the opportunity to share it.  Thanks go to cousin Gracie for writing it down for us, and for giving my husband such great memories of eating it many years ago that he remembered to ask. 

Both of the variations - Coconut Flan and Cheesecake Flan (yes you read that right) are absolutely delicious.  The coconut is subtle and would be a great choice for ending a tropical dinner.  Cheesecake flan is yummy and creamy and I don't have enough descriptive words that don't involve drooling on my keyboard. 

We also tried the recipe with and without flour.  I prefer the smoother texture without and my husband prefers it with.  Both are awesome.  The shard of caramelized sugar in the photo is from pouring hot sugar syrup into an extra ramekin, waiting until it cooled, then breaking the stained-glass-looking sugar.  I'll admit that was an accident but it was sure tasty.  For presentation the ramekins make it much prettier but spreading out the hot sugar is a bit trickier, so I recommend using a single dish.  We have a glass 8x8 pan that fits perfectly inside a larger glass rectangle baking dish with enough room for water to surround the square.

Get bright happy colorful ramekins.  They make everything more fun.  :)

Mama Graciela's Flan
Equipment needed: heavy saucepan, bain marie (or a reasonable replacement), 8x8" square pan that fits inside the water bath pan
Optional: 6-8 Ramekins depending on the size of your bain marie pan - this fits eight 4.5-oz ramekins

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup sugar to caramelize (in addition to what's listed above)
2 12-oz cans evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla
6 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1 Tbsp flour (optional)

Alternate: Coconut Flan - Add a can of coconut milk with the other wet ingredients. (can size is not terribly important, just don't use a giant one)
Alternate: Cheesecake Flan - Add 8 oz softened cream cheese with the other wet ingredients.

Traditional Flan
1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Prepare pans - use either an 8x8 square or 6-8 4.5oz ramekins, and a larger baking dish with high sides.  Put the smaller dish(es) inside the larger one and fill the larger one with water so it's about 3/4 to the top.  This will be heavy and awkward to get in and out of the oven so make sure to have good hot pads/mitts handy.  
3. Mix evaporated milk, vanilla, egg yolks and whites.
4. Slowly add flour and 1 cup sugar.  Prepare the flan mix before the sugar so it's ready to pour when the sugar is done.
5. Caramelize sugar: Put 1/2 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan on low to medium-low heat.  Watch this constantly, as it can burn very quickly.  Do not stir, just let the sugar do its thing; it will turn liquid as it heats up, bubble, and turn a lovely golden brown (takes 8-10 minutes).  When this happens, remove from heat immediately.
6. While it is still very hot, carefully pour the caramel into the smaller oven pan and tilt the pan around so it gets all covered.  Pour flan mix into this pan over the caramel.
7. Fill larger oven pan about 1/3 with water and place the smaller oven pan into it so the water surrounds the pan, then place pans in the oven.  
8. Bake at 350 for 75 minutes.
9. Serve warm or cold.  Enjoy!

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