When I work in the kitchen, I often vacillate wildly between the urge to honor tradition and the more black-sheep desire to cook as an iconoclast, to innovate with food (yes, I’m feeling now that “cook as an iconoclast” is a fairly absurd statement, but I want to get on the level with y’all. I’m devoting these letters to truth and butter). This flan is situated firmly at the intersection of these two extremes of mine, & I think it reflects the desire to achieve both.
Flan, for the uninitiated, is a baked custard dessert often found in Mexican cuisine. Though usually topped with caramel, I imagine regional variations do abound. In my version, I’ve added fleur de sel to the caramel because . . . salted caramel . . . duh . . . is delicious. I’ve mixed in some brandy into the actual custard to liven up the flavor, but you could easily substitute another dessert liquor (the Emeril recipe I adapted this from uses Kahlua, and I encourage you to try anything from Frangelico to Chambord . . . really whatever’s languishing on your bar cart).
I served this at the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Buttertooth house and find it’s most delicious after an authentic Mexican meal. As Julia Child might say if she were Latina, “Buen provecho!”
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¼ tsp to ½ tsp fleur de sel, adjusted to personal taste
- 4 eggs
- 1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1 12 oz can evaporated milk
- 2 tbsp brandy or other dessert liqueur
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm sugar and salt until the mixture begins to melt. Reduce the heat and cook sugar until liquefied and golden brown to amber in color. Do not stir, but swirl the pan to ensure even melting without burning.
- Pour sugar into 9" cake pan and tilt to coat evenly. Allow to harden.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, both milks, and brandy until thoroughly combined. Pour into prepared cake pan.
- Place the cake pan in a roasting dish in which it fits comfortably and fill the roasting dish with water reaching halfway up the sides of the cake pan.
- Bake in the preheated oven 50 minutes to 1 hour, until firm but still jiggly.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours prior to serving.
- To serve, use a sharp knife to separate the flan from the rim of the cake pan. Turn upside down on a platter or cake stand and remove the mold.