Flan-tastic

I asked Stephan what dessert he would like me to make for my first sweet tooth blog. Surprisingly… he chose flan, which is a super easy dessert to prepare. We (he) actually ate the whole Flan in less than 2 days… it was delish!

Since it was such a simple dessert, I had to (pardon the cheese) ‘kick it up a notch’ with a cookie to go with it. The recipe I used is a very basic tuile cookie, which is shaped like a curved roof tile. I love this recipe because it’s made with items I always have in my kitchen. Its a very easy and tasty cookie that can be whipped up in a few minutes.flan_01.jpg

When cooking your sugar for the flan, be very careful! I almost burned down a hotel when I forgot about cooking a large pan of sugar. By the time I remembered the sugar, there were flames shooting out of it. Quite a mortifying event, as the smoke was so thick afterwards we almost had to close down. Needless to say, I was teased unmercifully by all the chefs after this. So make sure you stay very close to the sugar when its cooking… no multi-tasking while carmelizing sugar!

Flan Recipe

1 c sugar
1/4 c water
several drops of lemon juice

1. Combine sugar, water and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and swirl the pan. Let cook until the sugar is a deep amber color.

2. Pour the carmelized sugar into 8 ramekins or one 2 quart souffle dish. Immediately, swirl the sugar around the cups or dish, halfway up the sides.

5 large eggs
3/4 c sugar
1 pinch salt
3 cups milk (I used 1%)
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 325 and set the rack in the center of the oven.

2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt together into a large bowl. Heat the milk to steaming and temper about a cup of it into the egg mixture and stir well. Add the remaining milk to the bowl and stir. Do not whisk too hard as you will incorporate air and will end up with a frothy mixture.

3. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl, preferrably one with a pouring spout. Add the vanilla and pour the strained mixture into your dish or ramekins.

4. Place the dish in a shallow baking pan and add water halfway up the sides of the dish to create a waterbath. Bake in a 325 degree oven for about 45 minutes for the ramekins and an hour and a half for the souffle dish. The flan will be cooked when the center is firmly set. Refrigerate for at least 5 hours, or overnight.

5. Unmold by dipping the bottom of the dish in hot water for a few seconds. Invert onto individual plates or a large platter that is deep enough to hold the caramel.flan_02.jpg

Tuile Cookies Recipe

6 tbsp unsalted butter (softened)
3/4 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
pinch of salt
2 large egg whites
2/3 c flour

1. Preheat oven to 375 and set rack in the middle level of the oven. Have ready several sheet pans and a Silpat (Silicon baking sheet.) Also place a rolling pin on a clean kitchen towel.

2. Combine the butter, sugar, vanilla and salt in the bowl of a standing electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until well mixed. Add the egg whites a tablespoon at a time, mixing and scraping the bowl after each addition. Remove bowl from mixer, and add flour by hand with a rubber spatula.

3. Spread a little less than a tablespoon of dough into a circle with a small offset spatula, as thin as possible, around 3 inches in diameter. You can get 6 per sheet pan. The more even you spread the dough, the better the cookie. It will take a little practice to get it right, but so worth it!

4. Bake the cookies for about 5-7 minutes, until golden around the edges, dry and firm. Remove from the oven and using an offset spatula, immediately drape cookie over rolling pin. They will cool very quickly and keep the curved shape. If the cookies harden too quickly, put the pan back in the oven and allow them to heat up again. Repeat with the remaining dough, but allow the silpat to cool down before the next batch.flan_03.jpg