Flan de Leche
This traditional Iberian flan, is now sometimes called “Flan a la Antigua," or Flan of the Past. That’s because it doesn’t include the common New World ingredients of condensed and evaporated milk. Instead, it is pure poetry made of eggs, sugar and milk. It does call for modern technology — blender and microwave — to streamline the preparation. The edge of sharp caramel against the round sweetness of custard is what makes the dish, so be sure to cook the caramel well past golden.
- Serves: 10 persons
- 2 ½cups sugar
- 3cups whole milk, or 2 cups whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream
- 2strips lemon zest
- ⅛teaspoon salt
- 6large eggs
- 2egg yolks
- ½teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Step 1Make caramel: Pour 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water into a saucepan, preferably one that is white or light-colored inside. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, swirling the pan to combine the sugar and water. Do not stir. Let boil until deep amber in color, swirling the pan occasionally to caramelize evenly, about 10 minutes total. Watch the pan carefully after the mixture starts turning golden; it will quickly become light brown, then amber, then dark amber.
Step 2Immediately pour caramel into a 9- by -5-inch loaf pan and swirl to coat the bottom evenly. Set aside to harden.
Step 3Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Step 4In a saucepan or microwaveable bowl or pitcher, combine milk, lemon zest, salt and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar. Over low heat or in the microwave, heat through, stirring to melt the sugar. Set aside.
Step 5In a blender (or using a hand blender in a pitcher), combine eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Blend until smooth.
Step 6Remove the lemon zest strips from the hot milk mixture. With the blender running, gradually pour the milk mixture into the eggs. Go very slowly at first so that the eggs don’t cook from the heat of the milk. Blend just until smooth. Pour egg-milk mixture into the caramel-lined pan.
Step 7Place a 9- by- 13-inch baking dish in the lower third of oven. Carefully place the loaf pan in the baking dish. Pour hot tap water into the baking dish until it comes about halfway up the sides of the loaf pan. (Don’t worry if the oven seems to be losing heat; the flan will adjust.)
Step 8Bake 55 to 65 minutes, until flan is set but still jiggly in the center. Remove flan from water bath and cool on a rack for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, uncovered, until cold and firm, at least 8 hours or up to 3 days. The caramel will soften as it sits.
Step 9To unmold, run a thin sharp knife around the edges. Center a flat-bottomed platter or serving dish with a rim on top of the pan and, holding both, carefully flip the pan and plate together. The flan will fall onto the plate with a squelch; lift off the pan and let the caramel run all over the top. (If the flan doesn’t come out, flip it back over and rest the bottom of the pan on a hot wet kitchen towel for a few minutes, to melt the caramel.) Serve chilled, in slices.