Monday, April 5, 2010

How to make a flan: Part 2

Now that you have made the caramel, what you need to do is make the custard. For that you will need:
12 extra large egg (yolks separated)
2 8-oz cans of condensed milk
1 12-oz can of evaporated milk
1 12-oz measure of 2% milk
2 tblsps of pure vanilla extract (no imatation)
1. Pre-heat oven to 350. Separate the eggs from the yolks. Use the shells to separate if you are planning on making angel food cake or meringues with them later. Use your hands if they are destined for omelets.
2. Beat the egg yolks until they are a bit lighter in color, but not much. Add in all the milks and stir together.
3. Add the vanilla extract and stir together.
4. Pour the mixture through a fine mesh strainer (this is important! No one likes a chunky flan) into the prepared mold with the caramel.

5. Place the custard and caramel mold into a water bath. (A larger pan filled with hot water).

6. Cook for 45-60 minutes (depending on your mold and your oven). The flan should jiggle slightly when you shake it, but a knife inserted into the center should come out clean. Definitely err on the side of under cooking rather than over cooking or you will have a chunk of solid custard rather than creamy goodness.
7. Once the flan is finished let it cool slightly, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but for best results, leave it overnight.
8. When you are ready to serve, flip the flan over onto your serving dish and enjoy! Now doesn't that look pretty?

How to Make a Flan (Part 1)

Flan is a decadent Cuban dessert that combines the creaminess of custard with the deep deliciousness of caramel. Incredibly simple to make and equally hard to resist, this dessert had eluded me for some time. But not any more! After a foray into Angel food cake, I found my self with a quantity of egg yolks and no real use for them. A-ha! I thought, I'll make a flan. So I trolled the internet for recipes and videos (p.s. they are everywhere!) Then I consulted, Nitza, the Cuban cooking diva, and ultimately came up with a fabulous recipe.

Here is part 1: Making the Caramel

Place 1 cup of sugar into a sauce pan over medium high heat. No liquid necessary. Stir constantly and DO NOT leave unattended for any length of time. As the sugar heats up, the crystalized cane juice (or beet juice) will begin to melt and turn color...

But first it will turn into rocks (resist the urge to touch, there is nothing worse than a sugar burn)
Then it will begin to liquefy and turn amber, keep stirring!

Finally, you will have a dark brown syrup that smells like caramel, and perhaps just a bit like burnt sugar, but not too burnt.

At this point, turn off the heat, pour into the glass dish of your choice and swirl it around so that the caramel coats the bottom and half of the sides of the pan. Like so,

Allow this to cool completely. You will hear the caramel start to crack as it cools. This is perfectly normal and desirable.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Faifax Chocolate Lover's Festival

So this post is a little out of date, but as I was looking through my food pics for today's blog, I just couldn't help myself. The first weekend in March was warmish, sunny and free for us so we decided to check out the Fairfax Chocolate Lover's Festival, and let me tell you, it was a chocolate extravaganza. The event coordinated merchants, restaurants, and confectioners in downtown Fairfax, but we only got to two of the events.

The first and most extravagant was the "Taste of Chocolate" in the Old Town Hall, a beautiful building just bursting with people and treats. We smushed our way through and gathered a bag full of loot: chocolate covered strawberries, fudge, a chocolate covered pretzel, and some red velvet cake. Alas, or perhaps thank goodness, these treats were not free, you paid for tokens which were then handed to the vendors.

We continued upstairs, were the person to chocolate ratio was a bit better and we could bask in the glory of the chocolate fountain. I've tried some gross chocolate fountains in the past, but this one managed to create a waterfall-effect without watering down the chocolate. We also tasted some chocolate covered potato chips and subsequently bought an entire bag.

Finally, we ended the day with a look at some of the chocolate cake creations at the Chocolate Challenge. this one was by far the most sophisticated.

But this version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was definitley my sentimental favorite. Can you make out the little Oompa-Loompas???? Awesome.
This event is definitely something to keep on your radar for next year, usually around Valentine's Day, barring another snowpocalypse.