Had an all ladies' meeting at my house last night, so I had the idea that a flan with really cute cookies would be a nice thing to serve. I've made this flan recipe many times and it is very reliable. The thing I like about it is it uses whole eggs (not just the yolks--I don't like to have to make something else out of the leftover whites so you don't feel like you're wasteful) and whole milk (not cream), yet it comes out smooth and velvety. It uses simple, basic ingredients to make something really delicious. I like to serve it with softly whipped cream and a seasonal fruit (raspberries looked good this time), but it is tasty all by itself.
Now, about the cookies. I made Spritz Butter Cookies from a super old recipe my mom had. It came with the "cookie gun" that she received as a wedding gift in the early 50's and that I now have. It's fun to use and makes all kinds of different shaped cookies fast. Anyway, so I made heart-shaped butter cookies and painted one side with yummy chocolate. They looked great! I stored them in the fridge so the chocolate would stay nice-- a mistake. During the last part of the meeting I went to the kitchen to serve the dessert. The flan was fine, the meeting adjourned, people went home, and then-- RATS! There were the cookies still in the refrigerator! I had forgotten to serve them! Here's the worst: this is not the first time I've done that. In fact, it happens enough that it is rather a family joke (very funny.). I didn't include a photo of them, but I will later. I'm going to freeze them for the next meeting...........and write myself a note about that!
Here's some tips for making flan:
1. Use a fairly shallow mold with very little decoration. If you use something fancy, like a bundt type pan, the caramel coating isn't nearly as dramatic looking in the final dish and the molded decoration gets somewhat hidden by the caramel. I just use a metal layer cake pan (make sure it holds the proper volume).
2. Melt the sugar in a small, heavy, cast iron pan. Stir constantly as it melts. It will look like a mess at first, but soon the sugar melts into a smooth, brown syrup.
3. Stop heating the syrup while is still a little lighter than you want because it will continue to darken from the heat of the pan.
4. Be very careful when you pour the syrup into the mold. It will get super hot, so hold it with potholders while you're tilting it around to coat the sides.
Simple Ingredients Flan
1 c. sugar
4 c. whole milk
1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Almost boiling water.
Preheat oven to 325F.
1. Place the 1 c. sugar in a small, cast iron skillet. Stir over medium heat until melted and a deep brown caramel color.
2. Pour the melted sugar carefully into a metal mold or 9-inch cake pan. Hold the mold with pot holders and swirl the syrup around to coat the sides and bottom of the mold.
3. Pour the milk into a microwave safe container and heat until very hot, about 2-3 min. on "high".
3. Beat the rest of the above ingredients, except the water, in a bowl. Beat in the hot milk. Pour into the mold.
4. Set the mold in another metal pan and pour hot water up 1/2-inch around the mold.
5. Bake for 1hr and 15 min. or until a silver knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
6. Refrigerate overnight.
7. To serve: Run a knife around the edge of the mold to loosen the sides. Place a shallow serving dish over the top and invert everything quickly. Shake the mold a little and the flan will slip out with all the yummy caramel to serve as a sauce.