Thursday, January 13, 2011

Luxurious (and Easy and Nutritious) Sweetness

This week is the kind of week where we need comfort food. But if you're like me, you're trying to get back to more nutritious, judicious eating. But you can have your comfort food and not undo your nutritional plans if you're careful.

For me, custard is comfort food (one of many kinds of comfort food). My mom only made it for us when we were sick, and she told us about her mom only making it when she was sick.

I remember having a wonderful week-end with my spouse in Columbia, South Carolina when he was in grad school, and I was living and working 4 days a week in the Charleston area, 90 miles away. One day, I found myself craving flan, probably because we had shared a flan over the week-end.

I looked at my various recipe books and decided to give it a try. It was surprisingly easy. Even though the recipe says to eat it chilled, I ate about half of it right out of the oven. As I ate, I thought about how similar comfort foods are across cultures--some cultures, at least. While my Hispanic friends share my love of flan, my Asian immigrant friends have a whole different comfort food ethos.

Flan seems intimidating, but it can be really easy. The most important thing to remember is not to touch the hot sugar syrup; in other words, don't lick that spoon!

If you want to make it low fat, go for the skim, 1% or 2% milk. If you want a lower sugar content, adjust down. If you're short an egg, just add a bit more milk. In other words, this recipe is really flexible.


3 C. milk (works with any combination of whole, 2%, cream, skim, half and half)
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks
½ C. sugar (any sweetener will likely work; one recipe calls for ¼ C. maple syrup)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Whisk the above into a custard.

Place ½ C. sugar into a heavy saucepan and slowly heat the sugar until it starts to melt, bubble, and turn into a smooth, light brown syrup (no need to stir much). DON’T LET THE HOT SYRUP TOUCH YOUR SKIN OR MOUTH!!!

Quickly pour the syrup into a greased soufflé dish or individual greased custard cups. Then pour the custard into the dish (or custard cups). Place into a larger pan (1 or 2 9x13 inch pans work well) and put into a 350 degree oven. When the pan is in place in the oven, pour water into the pan around the dish(es), being careful not to get water in the custard.

Bake for 50 minutes until set. Let the soufflé dish (or custard cups) cool. When cool, unmold by running a knife around the edge and inverting into a rimmed serving dish or bowls. Chill.

For caramel coated surfaces: soak in hot water to dissolve the caramel before trying to clean.

Adopted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Flan! My Cuban husband's favorite dessert. And I have actually made it, successfully, several times, once for my son's Spanish class! Where it was a big hit.